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Picks and Pans Review: To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday

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Peter Gallagher, Michelle Pfeiffer, Kathy Baker, Claire Danes

Peter Gallagher spends most of this movie sporting several days’ growth of beard. He clearly hasn’t had anyone to shave for since his beloved wife, Gillian (Pfeiffer, who appears only fleetingly in flashback), died two years ago in a sailing accident. Still mourning, he spends his days speeding along Nantucket’s twisting roads, as if courting a fatal accident of his own, and his nights gabbing with the ghost of his dead wife. Which would be fine, except that he has an adolescent daughter (Danes) who desperately needs his attention.

All this comes to a head on the weekend when the wife would have turned 37. Gillian’s sister (Baker) and her husband (Bruce Altman) come to visit, carting along a divorced friend (Wendy Crewson). “Don’t you think it’s a little insensitive, fixing me up on [Gillian’s] birthday?” Gallagher asks. Baker’s reply: “Gillian has no more birthdays.” What follows is a fitfully moving drama about love and letting go. (PG-13)