It is a sad story that is told very well. This is one of those times when I really appreciated the extras that came with the DVD. One was a monologue by John Irving telling how he felt about the movie, and it was so enlightening. The director/writer wisely chose to only use the first part of Irving's novel, A Widow for a Year as the basis for the movie.
I have been making a study of the art of the screenplay recently and was very encouraged by the positive collaboration that occurred in the making of this film. Irving really left the writer/director to do his work, but he approved of the resulting screenplay, and his approval helped to get Bridges and Basinger on board for the project.
So much of what I had read about the art of the screenplay was disillusioning, that the Spirit of the original work is so often lost in the process of bring the work to film. Such was not the case here.
Film is a director's medium and a collaborative medium. What was apparent here was that all participants acted maturely in bring a work of art in one medium to realization in another very different medium.
John Irving has the ability to tap into an almost mythical quality, and the tragedy expressed in this film had this quality also. Recommended!