“The tone is so delicate, so easy to mess up,” admits Abaire. “Of course I was terrified of it.
"When I sat down with John, John understood the script implicitly, and understood the tone, and had no interest in turning it into the sentimental movie of the week, which it could so easily be. He understood the humor in it, which is so important to the tone of the story.”
Abaire was right - Mitchell completely understood what the playwright was trying to do with his story.
“If you look at the play it calls for a certain level of reality,” says Mitchell, “also for a certain amount of gallows humour or respites from the intensity.
"I looked at films from my youth that rang true that were also not too challenging in style - like
Kramer vs. Kramer
- that I felt got it right.
"They didn’t talk down to their audiences. Didn’t treat them as any sort of lesser beings you had to explain every little thing to.” Then there were the personal challenges…