Review by Fran Dorf —

This 2004 film honestly examines a marriage breaking apart after child-loss. Adapted from the first (and best, in my opinion) part of John Irving’s best-selling novel, A Widow for One Year, the film is set in the affluent beach community of East Hampton, N.Y., and takes place during one critical summer in the lives of famous children’s book author and artist Ted Cole (Jeff Bridges) and his beautiful wife Marion (Kim Basinger).

The Cole’s once-sweet marriage has curdled in the aftermath of the tragedy of losing their twin teenage sons in a car accident, and their attempt to fill the void with a new child, now six-year-old Ruth, has been disastrous. Marion remains despondent and unable to mother the new child, and Ted has become a philandering alcoholic. Eddie O’Hare, a young man Ted hires to work as his summer assistant, becomes the couple’s pawn in the destructive game that has developed between them.

I found this film deeply moving and devastating as a kind of cautionary tale, for its portrayal of the destructiveness that can occur in two people with no resources to cope with a tragedy of unbearable proportions. It’s hard to sympathize with these two, but I recognize in them the narcissism and self-absorption of grief, and when Marion takes all the photographs and negatives of their dead sons, I wept like a baby.

Fran Dorf’s acclaimed, internationally published novels include A Reasonable Madness (1990/91), Flight (1992/93), and Saving Elijah (2000), which was inspired by the tragic death of Fran’s son, Michael, in 1994. An experienced public speaker and active philanthropist, Fran blogs as THE BRUISED MUSE on life, grief, and everything in between (books, film, art, writing, psychology, culture, human rights, politics, media, poetry, spirituality, etc) at www.frandorf.com.

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Fran Dorf

Fran Dorf, MA, MSW, is a poet, essayist, and author of three acclaimed novels, including Saving Elijah (Putnam), which was inspired by the 1994 death of Fran's son, Michael. Fran blogs on life, grief, culture, arts, etc. at www.bruisedmuse.com and is currently working on a memoir of survival stories. Fran is also a psychotherapist and conducts “write to heal” workshops to help people cope with grief, loss, illness, and trauma. In 1999, Fran and her husband, Bob, started Jumpstart, an educational program for toddlers with special needs in their small city. Fran appeared on the radio show “Healing the Grieving Heart” with Dr. Gloria & Dr. Heidi Horsley to discuss “Writing to Heal.” To hear Fran being interviewed on this show, click on the following link: www.voiceamericapd.com/health/010157/horsley082808.mp3

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