As the film opens, Nicole Kidman is gardening, placing flowering plants in the backyard. A neighbor comes over and steps on one of her plants. Becca (Kidman) can’t wait to get rid of the neighbor and get back to her solitary pursuit. Becca and her husband Howie (Aaron Eckhart) have lost their young son in a car accident right in front of their house. Told in a slowly unfolding style, John Cameron Mitchell’s film pulls you in to the lives of a couple coping in their different ways with their grief, their guilt and their loss that seems ever present.
Becca’s mother (Dianne Wiest) knows loss (her husband and her son) and offers unasked for advice to her daughter. But one grief does not compare to another, as Becca bridles at what she feels is an unfair link to the loss of her son and her mother’s loss of hers. Howie also has his way, readily attending a support group while Becca reluctantly accompanies him. Howie wants to surround himself with reminders of his son, while Becca begins to remove reminders, she has rid herself of her son’s dog, and suggests they move. All of these things Howie opposes.
When Becca reaches out to the young man who killed her son (truly an accident, as the boy darted out into the street chasing the dog) Howie is incensed. They both have dug themselves down in to their own rabbit holes, and there seems to be no helping hand out.
The film is prevented from being a total downer by intermittent scenes of gentle humor and the brightness of the cinematography. Loss and grief within a family is not at the top of my want to see list, but this one has some things going for it and rises above. Kidman is one of them and was much nominated for her performance, although she never did get an award.