Achtung — Spoiler Warning!: New York critic David Edelstein today described the documentary Dear Zachary as “another dead-child saga, among the most enraging I’ve ever seen, and while it’s fine and heartfelt and I commend it to those of you with strong constitutions, it is the film that has finally broken me. Folks, I can’t take this anymore. I know children suffer and die in this cruel world; I know we can never be too vigilant on their behalf. But the number of movies [with this theme] is simply disproportionate.
“Come awards season, dead children seem to factor in every other prestige picture, immeasurably ratcheting up their emotional stakes. In the past weeks, we’ve had Rachel Getting Married (which earns its anguish), Changeling (which doesn’t), I’ve Loved You So Long (a psychological striptease with a cheat ending), The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (dead children plus the Holocaust); and, as I write, I see on my desk a DVD of this year’s Israeli drama My Father, My Lord — six-sevenths of which is subtle and poetic, until the boy protagonist ventures into the surf while his strict Orthodox rabbi father is too busy davening to look up.”