TV veteran Silberling is an old hand at spinning ghost stories. The phantom at the centre of this one, however, which is set in Massachusetts in the early '70s, is less a looming absence than an oversight. On the morning of the funeral of a murdered young woman, her parents Ben and Jojo (Hoffman and Sarandon) and her fiancé Joe (Gyllenhaal) sport a blithe air of wry resignation, as if the burial were an amusing but tedious errand. Just days later, Joe's trip to the post office to collect unsent wedding invitations facilitates a slapstick meeting-cute with the foxy clerk (Pompeo), herself pining for a boyfriend missing in Vietnam. With a relentless playlist of rock stand-bys, the film careers between jaunty and maudlin. Mourning only happens when it's convenient to the plot, which crams in a cliffhanger trial, Ben's quixotic business ventures, JoJo's writer's block, Joe's guilty secrets, and more. Loosely based on the 1989 murder of Silberling's girlfriend, TV actress Rebecca Schaeffer, the film inevitably calls to mind In the Bedroom. But where Todd Field's superior work never flinched from the uglier shades of grief, Silberling stumbles over himself to find that silver lining. JWin.
Cast and crew
Richard T Jones