To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday (1996)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

In this emotional family drama, David's wife died two years ago, but her husband is unable to let her go. His daughter Rachel is devastated but able to cope. When David's sister-in-law shows up, she threatens to have Rachel taken away if David cannot stop being preoccupied with his loss.
PG-13 (adult situations/language)
Comedy , Drama , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

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Peter Gallagher
as David Lewis
Claire Danes
as Rachel
Kathy Baker
as Esther
Lori New
as Blonde on the Beach
Danny Crook
as Lifeguard
Seth Green
as Danny
Todd Haven
as Paramedic
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Critic Reviews for To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday

All Critics (28) | Top Critics (8)

A bargian basement Ghost, a hybrid of the earnest nature of an inspirational play and the sleek calculation of a Lifetime TV movie.

Full Review… | December 31, 2006
Top Critic

The film is cursed with clumsy staginess, exposing its roots as a play.

December 31, 1999
USA Today
Top Critic

Based upon a stageplay, the plot is very straightforward and predictable, and has no strong emotional payoffs, but the drama is stuffed with the feelings and confusions of grief and some viewers may find sufficient solace in that to respond to the film's

June 15, 2007

Tries too hard to make the audience cry; practically each 'emotional' moment is highlighted by the soft musical sounds of a harp and wind section.

Full Review… | September 11, 2005

Michelle Pfeiffer is appropriately cast as a ghost, but this meditation on death and remembrance is curiously spiritless.

February 23, 2003
Nitrate Online

Quote not available.

Full Review… | September 7, 2011
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday


When the best thing you can say about a film is that it has beautiful location filming you know the movie's in trouble. Gooey and too precious by half.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

this movie is about a guy whose wife died and although she died two years ago, Gillian Lewis (Michelle Pfeiffer) is still very much alive for her grieving husband, David (Peter Gallagher who lives with his 16year old daughter on Nantucket island and spends time with his imaginary wife every night on the beach. His life has basically stopped and his concerned sister in law (with husband and blind date for Peter) show up for the Labor Day Weekend. this movie is touching and moving as it deals with the emotions of letting go of the past and those left behind.

 ♥Robyn  M♥
♥Robyn M♥

Super Reviewer

(from The Watermark 11/23/96) A sweet film about devotion and letting go of the past, Danes is a teenager who, after spending the summer with relatives, returns to her father (Gallagher) at their Nantucket Island home. This particular weekend marks the anniversary of the death of Danes' mother (Pfeiffer) who died two years ago, on her 35th birthday. Gallagher has never quite dealt with the death of his wife, and he actually has conversations with her and envisions her as though she were still alive. When Pfeiffer's sister (Baker) announces she intends to seek legal custody of Danes due to Gallagher's loosening grip on reality, he realizes he has to do something to put the past behind him and look toward the future. Adapted from the play by Michael Brady, David E. Kelley's screenplay has nicely opened up the stage work to involve more characters and locations while still keeping the sentiments of the original in tact. Unassuming and unpretentious, there are no Ghost-like special effects when Pfeiffer appears, no car-chase scenes, and no bloody violence. Just the calm of the New England waves as a backdrop to a poignant story of a father and daughter trying to rebuild their relationship.

David Almeida
David Almeida

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