Rabbit Hole is a story of loss and individual ways of coping with that loss. The story of Becca and Howie is the story of finding their way to move on without burying the memory of their son; doing that they verge on destroying their marriage but eventually end up in a better place. Becca finds comfort in the company of the teenage boy who was driving the fatal car and Howie turns to the arms of Gaby (Sandra Oh), another grieving parent he bonds with at a group for dealing with loss. Struggling to find a balance between restoring their lives and remembering their son both deal with anger, resentment, guilt and resolve bubbling under.
Very well written, Rabbit Hole goes from ultimate sadness to laughter without feeling contrived, the film is based on a Tony-award winning play by David-Lindsay Abaire. The onscreen adaptation was largely due to Kidman’s personal interest in the story; this being her first film where she has both played the lead and been a producer. Gladly she’s stopped with the face-freezing Botox which has been apparent in a few of her latest films ( krhm Australia ) and she does do a great job portraying Becca’s changing moods and suburban housewife- mask. But for me the true star of the film is Aaron Eckhart.
Eckhart chooses varied and interesting roles, although being most comfortable in the confident, white-collar man’s man, here he let’s all the subtle nuances of grief and hope shine through. He’s a very subtle actor an by choosing roles he’s mostly comfortable with but have that something extra, he’s had a great career so far without really becoming a household name; I guess for some there’s something forgettable about him due to his lack of flashy roles. Next he’s starring in a very different role in the amazing looking Battle : Los Angeles.
Throughout the film I kept thinking about Von Trier’s Antichrist, a story about a very similar subject matter, the death of a child, that approaches the grief of the parents from a very different angle. (If you haven’t seen this, it’s a must see!) In Antichrist the child’s mother (played by the wonderful Charlotte Gainsbourg) very much blames herself for the death and falls into a deep depression which sadly her husband (Willem Dafoe) takes on by himself. They start an exploration of their bodies and minds, punishing themselves in the despair of their loss. A stunning film, that is seperated from Rabbit Hole by one thing, guilt.
The He and She of Antichrist dwell in their feelings of responsibility and guilt and never come to terms with what has happened. Rabbit Hole takes on a different perspective; what keeps Becca and Howie going is the feeling that no one is to blame for their tragedy, what happened, not necessarily happened for a reason, but at least it’s nobody’s fault. Becca keeps this in mind when she starts going through things with the driver of the car, Jason.
Rabbit Hole is made of strong performances and strong writing, it’s simple yet emotional and it breaks out of the dreary topic by breaking out of the everyday with intelligent detailing of story and cinematography.
8 / 10
You will like Rabbit Hole if…
– you think Aaron Eckhart is an underrated actor.
– you enjoyed Revolutionary Road.
– when “complexity of human emotion” is mentioned your first instinct isn’t to run.
Does it ever go away?