The death of a child is a sort of plot point which can collapse a film - the theme is so overworked, so laden with volatile emotion that one can easily succumb to a sort of boredom regarding the parents' grief or conversely, horror and repugnance at its theme. The director John Cameron Mitchell treads a fine line here between maudlin and touchingly emotional. The choice of Mitchell as a director seemed odd as he is especially known for Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Short Bus but listening to a personal interview he gave it made sense. He had lost a brother at a very young age so obviously has a lot of empathy for the characters involved.
The film is saved, I think, by Becca's odd but touching attachment to the boy who was driving the car that killed her son. Becca begins to seek him out, following him, and the relationship almost appears to be one of Becca consoling the boy who is also grieving for his part in the tragedy. I'm not sure I buy into it but grief is an amorphous, strange thing which assumes many guises.
The teenager Jason (Miles Teller) is a sad-faced, doughy boy - lonely, talented and clearly haunted by what he has done. He is a graphic artist who is creating his own comic book which fascinates Becca. The comic book appears to assume a sort of central place in the film and in the relationship between Becca and - but its significance alludes me.
The husband and wife harbor secrets - Becca's relationship with the boy feels not that different than Howie's secret attraction to Gaby - I feel that there is an underlying sexual tension between both "couples" which is disturbing to the viewer.
Everything exacerbates Becca's loss - her mother (Dianne Weist) compares the death of the 4 year old to the death of her own drug-ridden son who died as an adult and Becca's flaky sister's unanticipated pregnancy by a man she hardly knows - both clearly irk Becca and offer no emotional relief.
A rapprochement is eventually formed between husband and wife as must be - the marital relationship could not survive an event of this magnitude without one.
I don't know if this is a particularly good film although I admired the performances of all the principals. I cried throughout it but, as you know, that's just not enough to qualify it as a good film.