This is a compelling tale about the heartbreak of a mother and father who have to cope with a tragedy that’˜s bigger than the both of them. It takes us step by tortured step through the aftermath of what happened after their 19- year-old son took two loaded pistols to his English lesson, blasted his classmates to death and then turned the gun on himself. It’s emotionally charged but never depressing and all praise to the brave writers for taking us to a cinematic place where we have never been.
Bill (Michael Sheen) and Kate (Maria Bello) are on the verge of separation. Bill is ready to leave but Kate is arranging a vacation for them and their son, Sam (Kyle Gallner). Sam calls from college and agrees to go with them before he makes an excuse to cut short the conversation. The next morning Bill and Kate learn about a shooting on Sam’s campus and, within the hour, the police arrive to tell them that their son shot himself after killing 30 of his classmates.
Although the campus shooting is the springboard for this story, the filmmakers wisely resist the temptation to bring any grisly truths to our screen. Instead they bring us the other devastating drama that is unfolding, as Sam’s parents keep asking themselves and each other questions that they know have no answers. All this pain is played out in a bubbling cauldron of guilt, blame and so many kinds of anguish that it leaves no moment to contemplate that their only child has committed suicide. It’s a case of tragedy being over-whelmed by an even greater tragedy and it seems the grief can never end.
This film has two constant layers; one is what we see and hear, the other is what is going on beneath the surface. Before their son’s death, Bill and Kate had grown so far apart that they were sleeping in separate bedrooms but, after the tragedy, they are harassed by the press and escape to a relative’s house. Here they are given a bedroom with a double bed and, as they silently contemplate their enforced togetherness, the tension is palpable. This is subtle writing at its best.
There can be no more delicate subject to tackle than a child killing another child, but the filmmakers make it clear right at the beginning that that’s not the story they’re there to tell. They take us on a different journey and, by the end of the tale, the one thing we know for sure is that we’re not the only ones who spend our lives trying to fathom the unfathomable.
USA ‘” 3rd June 2011
Further dates – TBA