Bec: "This movie is awful and brutal and healing."

My husband asked me not to watch Return To Zero. But I’m glad I did.

“You’re not actually going to watch that film are you? Don’t do it.”

Four years ago my husband looked into my eyes – and was it pleading in his voice or horror? I can’t remember – but he tried to dissuade me from sitting in a darkened room by myself and watching Rabbit Hole.

The film starred Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart. And it was the story of a married couple who were trying to navigate life and marriage and friendships and getting out of bed and anger and forgiveness following the death of their only child –  four-year-old Danny – in a car accident.

Read more: What you should and shouldn’t say to a friend who miscarried.

Six months earlier I had lost my daughter Georgie.  And while everyone around me tried to convince me that seeing Rabbit Hole would be far too raw and painful that is precisely the reason I wanted to see it.

I wanted to be in pain and cry for my daughter.

I wanted to sit and stare at Nicole Kidman’s face and impassively decide if her performance as a broken, grieving mother felt real (it did. She was remarkable.).

I wanted to nod in recognition at the anger and the pain.

I wanted to feel sad. That’s what it comes down to. I wanted to feel sad.

Minnie Driver and Paul Adelstein play parents struggling over the loss of their child

This past weekend, I somewhat casually announced that I was going to watch the movie Return To Zero starring Minnie Driver and Paul Adelstein  – the first movie made that deals with the topic of stillbirth. And my husband – for the second time – looked up at me from the couch and said, “Oh Bec, don’t do it.”

But I did.

I don’t know what to tell you about this film.

It was awful and brutal and healing and authentic.

Keep reading: How a devastating miscarriage changed this dad forever.

Based on the true experience of writer/director Sean Hanish whose son Norbert was stillborn, the film follows Maggie and Aaron whose first baby – a boy called Arthur – is stillborn just weeks before his due date. The film traces the ripple effect Arthur’s death has on them as individuals, their parents and friends and their marriage.

I won’t lie. I found Return to Zero excruciating to watch.

“The film traces the ripple effect Arthur’s death has on them as individuals, their parents and friends and their marriage.”

It took me back to that moment I was alone in a doctor’s office when I watched a doctor and two nurses struggle to find a heartbeat on my heavily-pregnant belly.

It took me back to the lunch I attended – three months after Georgie had died – when an excited acquaintance rushed up to me and said, “How’s the new baby?”

It took me back to the nights I sobbed in the bathroom, asking Georgie why she left. It took me back to the assumption I would never feel joy again. That life was forever changed. The lights had been turned off.

While Maggie was far angrier than me in those first few months, I still felt I was watching myself on screen at times as I watched Maggie navigate a world where she is a mother with no baby to show for it.  A baby whose birth date is the day after his date of death.

Minnie Driver’s performance in this movie – like Kidman’s in Rabbit Hole – is extraordinary.

There were times I had to stop, walk away and come back because it was that raw. But I kept watching.

Minnie Driver’s performance is “extraordinary”.

I kept watching because nearly five years on from losing my daughter revisiting that raw pain is what makes me feel close to her again. It brings her back to me.

Five years on, I cope with Georgie’s death by putting my pain in my pocket.  Otherwise I couldn’t function. I couldn’t make dinner, or sort out Ava’s swimming lessons or pay the electricity bill.  So I compartmentalise it.

But sometimes when I have a moment, I play Georgie’s song. Or get out her baby book and touch her handprints. And I sit in bewilderment and shock – because I still find it shocking and unbelievable  – that I had a baby who died.

For any person who has been touched by the tragedy of stillbirth or miscarriage or the agony of losing a child through any circumstances at any age, Return To Zero will press hard on your already bruised heart.  It is not an easy film to sit through and nor should it be.

“It is not an easy film to sit through and nor should it be.”

But many of you  – not all but many – will be pulled to see it.  Why? Because this is your chance to take your pain out of your pocket.  I’m glad I did.

Return To Zero has partnered with HEARTFELT and STILLBIRTH FOUNDATION OF AUSTRALIA to host four very special non-profit screenings. Sean & Kiley Hanish will introduce the film and participate in a Q&A following the screening. All profits from these screenings will go to The Stillbirth Foundation of Australia and Heartfelt, to continue to Break the Silence in Australia surrounding stillbirth and newborn death. 

For more information and to purchase tickets before they are sold out, visit here: http://heartfelt.org.au/events

Screenings will take place:

February 26 – Sydney

March 1 – Melbourne

March 3 – Brisbane

March 13 – Adelaide (screening only, no Q&A)

Watch the trailer, here:

RETURN TO ZERO – Official Trailer from Sean Hanish on Vimeo.