Rabbit Hole (2010)

THE SCOOP
Director: John Cameron Mitchell
Plot: Life for a happy couple is turned upside down after their young son dies in an accident.

Genre: Drama
Awards: Nom. for 1 Oscar - best lead actress.
Runtime: 91min
Rating: NC16 for mature thematic material, some drug use and language.

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IN RETROSPECT

Based on a play by David Lindsay-Abaire, who also wrote the screenplay for this film, Rabbit Hole is an urban drama with indie vibes but starring Hollywood A-listers Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart. They play a loving couple who live in a big house. All seem quite normal; Becca (Kidman) waters her garden daily and takes care of household chores while her husband Howie (Eckhart) is a working professional. Except that it appears to be quieter than your usual household. Yes, there is someone missing, and it is their child, who died tragically in a car accident right outside their home many years ago.

Rabbit Hole is a gentle take on the subject of grief. Director John C. Mitchell approaches the story with a gradual style that gives the viewer time to get acquainted with the lead characters. Slowly but surely, bits of backstory are revealed like the peeling of an onion. But this onion is hard to peel as the characters find themselves unable to accept the other person’s way of dealing with grief. Becca prefers to remove things that remind of her son such as the crayon drawings on the refrigerator while Howie copes with the loss by watching videos of his son on his phone.

One day, a chance glimpse of the person who was responsible for the death of her son drives Becca to reconcile with him over the tragedy. That person is Jason (Miles Teller). While the core of the story remains to be the relational tensions between Becca and Howie, the Becca-Jason subplot adds (though not considerably) some narrative balance to the proceedings by highlighting the theme of forgiveness. A comic book, which the film is named after, that is painstakingly created by Jason becomes a source of comfort for Becca, who not only becomes fascinated by the concept of alternate realities but also admires Jason for his ability to move forward in life.

Kidman gives a strong performance but in my opinion it is the underrated Eckhart who steals the show. Here, he exhibits his acting range and feels at ease in a role that may pave the way for him to star in more dramas. Dianne Wiest, who won two Oscars for supporting roles in Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) and Bullets Over Broadway (1994) – both directed by Woody Allen – provides a composed display as Becca’s mother. I daresay if not for the strength of these three performances, which give more depth to their characters than the writer’s seemingly broad screen characterizations, Rabbit Hole would not have been worth a watch.

GRADE: B- (7/10 or 3 stars)
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