Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. USA, 2004. , This Is That Productions, Revere Pictures, Good Machine. Screenplay by Tod Williams, based on the novel A Widow For One Year by John Irving. Cinematography by Terry Stacey. Produced by Anne Carey, Michael Corrente, Ted Hope. Music by Marcelo Zarvos. Production Design by Therese DePrez. Costume Design by Eric Daman. Film Editing by Affonso Goncalves. Independent Spirit Awards 2004. National Board of Review Awards 2004.
Adapted from part of John Irving’s novel A Widow For One Year, this emotionally staid film stars Jeff Bridges as a children’s book author and painter who hires a writing student (Jon Foster) as an assistant for the summer during a painful time in his marriage. Bridges’ wife (Kim Basinger) has been left emotionally paralyzed by the death of their two sons in a car accident, and the couple have gone their separate ways about the issue, no longer able to stay married to each other. Caught in the middle of their silent war is their small daughter (Elle Fanning) who is fascinated by the photographs of the siblings she never knew that adorn her entire house. When Foster shows up all young and full of pluck and immediately becomes smitten with the author’s beautiful wife, she in turn sees her lost teenage sons in him and begins a sexual, almost incestuous affair with him. This daring film delves into emotional issues rarely seen in movies (even independently produced ones), but is held back by passionless direction from Tod Williams and a shallow performance by Bridges, who can’t knock through some of the film’s more overdone dialogue in the portrayal of his womanizing character. Basinger seems to be growing more fascinating and beautiful with each passing year, and here does some of her best work since her Oscar-winning role in L.A. Confidential, but it’s obvious she’s capable of handling a lot more of the film’s weight and Williams never lets her reach any kind of emotional boil; the whole thing is so proper and tastefully polite in its expression that it will leave you numb. Foster (younger brother of Ben) makes a fantastic breakthrough as the awkward teen who experiences a Summer of ’42 summer that will, as all these coming-of-age summers tend to do, leave him changed for life.