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Rabbit Hole

Director: John Cameron Mitchell
1 hour 32 mins. Rated PG-13

Rabbit Hole hints at the restraint with which a couple copes with the loss of their young son in an auto accident. Only gradually do we work out what, or who, is missing. Eight months later, Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie (Aaron Eckhart) exhausted the wailing grief that most movies on the subject would dwell upon. An uneasy peace has settled into their home, but it is superficial comfort—wallowing in silence—that viewers aren’t goaded into recognizing. Volatile emotions are more liable to leak through the cracks than to explode. Their life together seems tense, orderly, and ominously quiet, but the marriage is dissolving with temperamental silences; neither Becca nor Howie knows what to say, or what each could possibly hear that would make things better. Becca walks out of the support group (I don’t blame her), fed up with the God talk (a child is lost because God needs another angel). If there is a God, Becca says, he must be a sadistic pig. She would leave a restaurant where nothing from the menu jumps out at her—despite Howie’s effort to make amend. But the two keep talking, making it worse.

Kidman has stolen the film with a passive-aggressiveness in her role, as she shoots for pathos and inner turmoil. Tension increases as she seeks out the teenager who killed her child but with whom she shares her grief. Kidman portrays Becca with calibrated glares, gestures and pauses. What appeals to me the most is to see how unpredictable and rash Becca is, for she is very emotionally brittle. Eckhart matches her with underplayed frustration, never crossing into self-pity. My favorite scene, which is probably the most touching also, is when Becca’s mother (Dianne West) shared how she coped with the loss of her son. Grief will ease over time, but that loss will always be there like a pocket.

16 Responses

  1. I think Kidman is an often excellent actress and Eckhart is one of my favorites…sounds rather dark..and good.

  2. Wouldn’t Aaron Eckhart make a perfect Blomqvist? And has anyone seen the very moving Peruvian film “Undertow”?

    • Aaron Eckhart is even more handsome as he gets older. Yes, I think he’ll play a great detective role or Blomqvist. That said, I’m also looking forward to watching Daniel Craig.

  3. I’m almost afraid to see this movie because it deals with such a difficult subject. I suppose what I want to know is, did you learn anything from it? Not about grief, but about how to make your way through it? Friends of ours lost their son in a car accident, and though something truly amazing eventually came out of it, they have never gotten over their loss.

    • Rabbit Hole is a lot of aggressive passiveness, which translates to unexpected actions, as the couple silently drifts apart in their life. Becca and Howie fought on the grounds on whether they should move out of the house and thus delete those painful memories from associations. In a way, I have been dealing with loss of relationship, much less painful compared to theirs, by avoiding places. I can relate why Becca wants to sell the house and start a new life somewhere else.

  4. This film is heavy all throughout. I got all teary-eyed in a lot of scenes, and I am not the type of person who easily cries. This is something.

    • It’s a very heavy but never for a moment does it strike me as utterly depressing. I think husband and wife are dealing with their grief on separate paths.

  5. I will find it very difficult to watch. I doubt I can at all actually.

  6. Wow! I loved your review of this film! I must see this one when it comes near me. It just sounds like such an interesting film. Plus, I love Kidman – she is amazing! Thanks for the review.

  7. I’m really looking forward to this one, but it hasn’t made it to Albany yet. It’s set to open here in late February, and I’m excited!

  8. This one is definitely on my list to see in the near future.

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