An interesting comment is made by Calvin that neither Beth nor Conrad cried at Buck's funeral. Conrad attempts to deal with his depression and grief by entering psychotherapy with the psychiatrist Dr. Berger (Judd Hirsch), and as his mental and emotional state improves, he tries to get closer to his parents. His father also starts to see Dr. Berger and eventually makes a genuine connection with Conrad. But his mother refuses to go into therapy, and continues to angrily reject Conrad, as well as growing angrier with her husband.
Calvin tries to intercede between Beth and Conrad, hoping to make Beth understand how much her son needs her. He tells Beth, "He (Conrad) just wants to know that you don't hate him." Beth replies, "Hate him! How could I hate him? Mothers don't hate their sons! Is that what he told you? You see how you believe everything he tells you? And you can't do the same for me, you can't! God, I don't know what anyone wants from me anymore!" This scene portrays a woman in great emotional stress and denial.
Beth's rejection of son and husband may be viewed as a flight from an unresolved emotional attachment that she refuses to confront (Peterson & Nisenholz 224). Moore shows Beth's pain as well as her anger, but she is unable to release her feelings and communicate honestly with her husband and son. It is obvious that Beth and Calvin were not getting along well even before the death of Buck. Perhaps because of this, she doted on her favorite son, Buck, and so losing him made her life more unhealthy. Beth's inability to be the nurturing family member is very well portrayed, and Moore shows that Beth could not change. Perhaps if she entered therapy, she could be helped, but Beth will not let her defenses down.
Toward the end of the movie, Calvin tells Beth that he doesn't know if he still loves her because of her coldness, and withdrawal from Conrad, and her open hostility toward Conrad and