3 Stars - Wholesome
Denial is a helpful defense against the overwhelming pain of unexpected tragedy and loss. But when the denial continues for too long, it ceases being beneficial and instead becomes an obstacle to healing. This reality is the theme of Brandon Camp’s film “Love Happens.”
Directed by Camp and co-written with Mike Thompson, this film is the story of a man, Burke Ryan (Aaron Eckhart), who has made a career out of his denial after his wife was tragically killed in an automobile accident. Writing a self-help book which became a best seller, Burke’s agent, Lane (Dan Folger) has scheduled him on a whirlwind tour around the nation which has, after three years, returned him to his hometown of Seattle. It is his return to the city of his loss that begins his healing.
The impetus of his healing comes from two sources: a new relationship with an insightful beauty named Eloise (Jennifer Aniston) and the reappearance of an old relationship that Burke has been avoiding: with the parents of his deceased wife.
After three years of helping others deal with their losses in his week-long seminars, Burke is a troubled and lonely man who accidentally bumps into Eloise in the hallway of his hotel where she is delivering the flowers. Although there is an immediate connection, their relationship blossoms slowly but predictably.
The second source of healing comes through the broken relationship Burke has with his father-in-law (Martin Sheen). Having avoided the pain of his loss, Burke has also rejected sharing his pain and memories with his wife’s parents. Though also predictable in its development, the message rings true and gives helpful guidance in healing grief.
Although it is true that tragedy happens, it is also true that “love happens.” This joyful balance to the sorrows of life is often overlooked by those who are chained to their grief and overwhelmed by their loss. That love and relationships can heal and restore us is a tale worthy of being told.
Discussion for those who have seen the film:
In moments of unexpected loss or tragedy, have you ever experienced denial? What helped bring you to a place of wholeness?
It is difficult to continue relationships with those who remind us of loved ones we have lost. But over time, those very shared lives which originally caused us pain become a source of comfort. How have you experienced this transformation from pain to comfort?
The love which Burke and Eloise developed was healing for both of them. Do you believe love relationships usually cause healing or pain? Why do you answer as you do?