Today: February 22, 2024

Rabbit Hole

A touching and affecting story that, while emotionally powerful, never feels intentionally hard hitting.

A touching and affecting
story that, while emotionally powerful, never feels intentionally hard hitting.

Given
the names involved, Nicole Kidman
and Aaron Eckhart are certainly
stars associated with impressive performances, Rabbit Hole was always going to
be something of an award season baiter. In the end it only mildly flirted with
them though and as such in many ways comes away unscathed by preconceptions
about this being a ‘must see film’. As such it exceeds expectations and manages
to surprise in the way in which it addresses a delicate subject.

Eight
months after the accidental death of their four-year-old son, Becca (Kidman)
and Howie (Eckhart) would seem to be on the road to recovery. But appearances can
be deceiving and the reality is neither of them are coping. While Becca wants
to distance herself from the pain, by discarding memorable objects around the
house, Howie is anxious to be happy while never forgetting.

Based
on the play by David Lindsay-Abaire,
who also wrote the screenplay, the film could easily have fallen into the
operatic melancholy of Lars von Trier’s Antichrist (2009). Thankfully there is
no domestic torture or abuse to speak of. Instead director John Cameron Mitchell, normally presenting more risqué films like
Shortbus (2006) and Hedwig And The Angry Itch (2001), finds a delicate intimacy
that has moments of genuine humour as well as sadness. Yes there is the
occasional scene of shouting at each other, but these are few and far between
and in many ways moments of believable and warm humour are the order of the
film.

As
Becca begins to withdraw from Howie she finds solace in the young teenager who
accidentally hit her son. It becomes clear the two have a connection based
firmly around their shared guilt. In doing this the film opens up some
wonderful nuances of forgiveness. Jason (Teller),
the young man in question, has written a comic book called Rabbit Hole which
sees a young boy travel to different dimensions seeing various versions of
himself. It may sound like a contrived plot device but it reaps huge rewards
thanks to Kidman’s hard exterior cracking at the realisation of Teller’s
closeted regret.

Meanwhile
Eckhart’s Howie spends his time basking in the happy memories of his son rather
than choosing to ignore them. This makes him the more sympathetic of the two
characters. If anything his desperate need to feel a connection with Becca,
that doesn’t involve their dead son, is what creates the most pathos. But, as
Becca points out “Things aren’t nice anymore”, this family have been damaged,
broken and there is no magic plaster that can fix the scars.

As
the film gently unfolds though there is hope that they can move on. At one
moment Howie finds reprisal from his grief in retrieving the dog that was
partially responsible for their son’s death, in the next Becca can be laughing
with her mother (Wiest) about how she has pushed people away, all the while
feigning that she feels regret about it. It is these moments that make Rabbit Hole
a film worth diving head first into.

Not
the heavy slog the concept and marketing would have you believe. Rabbit Hole
takes a universal theme and conjures a rewarding insight into how people
address grief in their own unique ways. There
are no heroes or villains just people desperate to find a semblance of normalcy
in their lives.



To Order Rabbit Hole On DVD Click Here

Nicole Kidman Talks About The Film

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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