After being widowed, a woman begins to see ghosts everywhere in Grazer’s breezy postscript to The Starter Wife (2005).
When her husband, John, a personal chef and cookbook author, is the victim of a hit-and-run while biking to the market, 40ish Hannah Bernal’s life is upended. A stay-at-home dad to the Bernals’ toddler daughter Ellie, John also ran their household (in Santa Monica’s fashionable NoMo district) and made meals that went beyond mere nourishment. Hannah’s colleague and best friend Jay, a trash-talking gay man, forms a “Grief Team” with two of Hannah’s eccentric girlfriends, to help her get back on her feet. But John’s death has imbued Hannah with a sixth sense. Under her backyard avocado tree, Hannah sees her first ghost, Trish, the former owner of Hannah’s historic house. Hannah’s side-chatter with ghostly interlopers at a business meeting gets her and Jay fired from their jobs in reality TV. The first time John appears, the parted spouses argue about topics serious (he let his life insurance policy lapse) and absurd (are Crocs shoes or sandals?). When John reveals that his hit-and-run killer was a Range Rover driven by a texting Momzilla, not a truck driven by the illegal immigrant who was arrested for the crime, Hannah goes to the aid of the immigrant, convincing the police to refocus their investigation. Unable to refinance her home and threatened with foreclosure (a Realtor frenemy is hounding her to sell to a tear-down entrepreneur), Hannah is a bit slow (especially for an ex-reality TV producer) to see the monetary potential in ghost whispering. A New Year’s trip to Palm Desert for high colonics, Team in tow, occasions arch commentary on what L.A. sybarites consider entertainment. Her friends have their own troubles, involving coyotes, Pomeranians, feckless married men and failed auditions. Hannah’s banter with interlocutors, corporeal or not, is the chief pleasure here, more so than the leggy and disjointed plot.
Darkly humorous look at grief, L.A.-style.