Rabbit Hole

25 Dec

Title: Rabbit Hole
John Cameron Mitchell
David Lindsay-Abaire, adapting from his own play
Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Diane Weist, Tammy Blanchard, Miles Teller, Sandra Oh
MPAA Rating:
PG-13, mature thematic material, some drug use and language
91 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating:
Rotten Tomatoes:


I’m a sucker for the type of films that are just too powerful. The ones that sometimes are so strong in its exploration and depiction of its subject that you get rather uncomfortable watching at times, and yet you cant’ seem to look away, being absolutely enthralled by what you’re watching. Three films that look like they would fit that bill are set to be released in this last half of December: Rabbit Hole, Blue Valentine and Biutiful. And those are three of the films I’ve been looking forward to the most during the end of this year, and Rabbit Hole is the first of the trio I got to see, and boy was it worth the wait.

And there really are times in Rabbit Hole when the stuff shown is really hard to watch, and you hurt along with the characters. And that’s a testament to the power this film has, and what a very solid script can do in conjunction with some pretty unbelievable performances.

Nicole Kidman is especially terrific in this one. And she’s also a producer of the film, the one who lobbied like crazy for this one to get made after reading a review of the play it’s based on, the one who perfectly handpicked Aaron Eckhart to be her co-star, and the one who just got a most-deserved Golden Globe nomination for her role as a grieving mother in this one, the same role that won Cynthia Nixon a Tony Award. Ms. Kidman, an actress who has obviously been amazing in a number of films, is at the top of her game here, and it’s spectacular to watch her go at it.

Some people will surely have a tough time watching it, and I’m guessing some won’t like the film for that. But it’s a worthy experience watching Rabbit Hole, a film that approaches a sad theme straightforward and with relentless emotion and honesty, never looking the other way. A film like this is hard to find, and I don’t mean that this is my favorite film of the year, it probably will have a hard time cracking my Top 25, but I appreciated it like crazy all the same for the deeply emotional ride it provided.

What makes Rabbit Hole work so damn well is that it all feels devastatingly human, the script is so in tune with real harsh emotions, and the performers are so deeply connected to them that the end result is just beautiful to watch unfold, mostly because, just like the real process of mourning, it’s never easy and it takes its time.

Ms. Kidman is the best she’s been probably since her Oscar-winning turn in 2002’s The Hours. Mr. Eckhart is splendid as her husband, cementing the fact that he’s one very consistent actor. And there’s also Diane Weist here, playing the mother of Ms. Kidman’s character, and when she’s pitted against Ms. Kidman in her scenes we witness some pure acting dynamite.

The story of the film goes like this: Becca and Howie have a perfect marriage and a very happy life until their young son, Danny, is killed in a car accident. That has enormous repercussions on the couple, and Rabbit Hole focuses on observing how they are dealing with their lives and with their marriage after that horrific event.

And that’s why this film is so uncomfortable to watch at times, because it’s too intimate an affair and it never shies away from anything, fully letting us into the lives of Becca and Howie, who have had their lives turned around absolutely, and find themselves in separate world’s, they are not communicating or having sex, and they both in their own ways dealing with this huge loss, but they’re not dealing with it as a couple.

But it’s not all grief here. We aren’t stuck in those weeks just after the accident. We flashforward some months, when things have settled a bit more, and there are times in which the situations our characters are in, though painful, can be a bit amusing and funny. We see them attend group therapies for people who have gone through similar situations, Becca thinking it’s all a load of crap and shutting herself in, while Howie actually finds a woman who can listen him out, played by Sandra Oh.

And that’s one of the aspects that make Rabbit Hole such a tremendous film, the relationship between Becca and Howie, that has been strained to the point in which they can’t seem to talk to each other. He finds someone else to talk about his feelings to, and she finds her own different ways to cope. But they are still living together, a couple who can’t seem to have anything to say to each other, a couple who in the time they should be most together couldn’t be more apart.

And I like the dynamic between Ms. Kidman and Mr. Eckhart. He’s solid as a rock as Howie, because Howie’s the man who has hurt like crazy when he lost his son but that, in a way, has remained quite similar, not really undergoing that much of a personal transformation. And Howie actually wants to move on and do so remembering his son and the love he had for him. While Becca, on the other hand, has had her entire life, inside and out, completely altered, and seeing her go through her misery is captivating. She tries to keep herself busy so as to not think about her tragedy, and shutting the doors to that has her shut the doors to pretty much everything else, too.

And again, Ms. Kidman is just sensational here, and this will remind people the sort of actress she can be when she picks these sort of roles. I mean, sure, her performance in Moulin Rouge! was tremendous, but she’s best when she picks these darker and more complex characters like the ones she’s played in The Hours or Dogville, and now in this one, a film in which she allows herself to be unlikable and cold as hell. Welcome back, Ms. Kidman, I really did miss you.

I can’t recommend Rabbit Hole enough. Even if you think you’ll find yourself suffocated by its pain and sadness, you ought to check it out. Because even though this is a film about mourning and loss, it’s how it shows it that’s so impressive about it, there’s humor and love and hope here, too, and it’s all acted to perfection by some very capable people. And its director, John Cameron Mitchell, is very talented at showing this, at acknowledging that everyone deals with grief in their own way, and that there’s really no correct way to do so, and letting you watch every step of the way. Just go see this one, you won’t regret it.

Grade: A-


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