The plot is basic thriller stuff - man's wife gets murdered, 8 years later he gets an email that seems to indicate that she's still alive, and meanwhile some new shit comes to light, as the Dude would say, and suddenly her husband is once again a suspect. And then all hell breaks loose. So it's suspenseful and intriguing and all that, but by the time the end rolls around, you're kind of like, oh, well, ok. The explanation takes way too long, and is a bit overdone. I don't want to give it away, but there's a moment when a character says "But wait... there's more" and that's when you're like OK NO. RED LIGHT IS BLINKING, LET'S WRAP THIS UP. And then it keeps going, and weaves and twists and gawd, enough already.
But meanwhile, the characters are fantastic. Well acted, and brilliantly rendered. There's an attention to detail in the film that's just fantastic. It's extremely subtle, not so much as to divert you from the plot, but enough to give them genuine depth. One particularly amazing scene involves two police officers discussing a case. As they talk, one of them interrupts the other to angrily transfer something from the trash to the recycling - it's genius. They make ready to leave, and pause to say goodbye, which is when you realize they're over at the guy's house because they've just brought some groceries to his mother and put them away for her. It's absolutely phenomenal. Then there's the thug with the Godfather tattoo and the hemophiliac son, and a strange melancholy woman in his living room. It's these little moments that really make it a great movie. They're really nothing more than moments scattered throughout the film, but they're just wonderful.
Another thing I loved about the movie was the soundtrack. My friend Tommy summed it up best: "At first I thought, well that's a strange choice... but it works..." It's hard to explain, but the effect is that the music forcefully demands to be noticed - it's not just background - but as soon as you do start paying attention to it, you realize why it's so fitting. It's really elegantly done.
The only thing I found really irritating about the movie was that it ham-fistedly used the fact that the main character and his wife had been in love since childhood to create sentimental tableaus of children doing cutesy romantic stuff. I have very little tolerance for children being milked for sentimentality. At first it was ok, it went with the various flashbacks that filled in plot - which were effective, and well done - but then it just got annoying. Children holding hands does not make me go awwwww. The dog on the other hand, oh my gosh it was adorable. Big and fluffy with floppy ears, I loved that dog. And it's name was Nina! What a great name for a dog!
It's funny, because it's actually a fairly gory movie - there's this one amazing female character who is creepy as all get out and man does she have a fantastic final scene - but nonetheless, I remember it as a warm, cuddly sort of movie, full of lovable characters and good cheer. In any case, recommended. As I said to Tommy over drinks afterwards, "I approve of this film."