Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Opens Friday, January 14th 2010 (check local listings)
Run Time: 1 hour, 31 minutes, Rated PG-13
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Dianne Wiest
Directed by John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Shortbus)
"Rabbit Hole" is a story about loss, and tragedy, told in a surprisingly gentle and uplifting manner. Howie and Becca Corbett, played by Aaron Eckhart and Nicole Kidman, are a married couple that seemingly had the perfect life. Although we never really see this life, because when we meet the couple at the beginning of the film, we are meeting them after the tragic, sudden loss of their only child. How does one possibly cope with the loss of a child? This film portrays the overwhelming and unthinkable slew of emotions that the parents go through, and does a tremendous job of showing the different ways people cope with tragedy.
On one hand you have Becca, brilliantly portrayed by Kidman in one of her finest roles. Here she is borderline unlikeable, but we obviously sympathize with her loss...she plays the part as a bitter, empty shell...a woman so grief-stricken that she refuses to give herself a moment of peace. To forget, or even to occupy the mind with something other than her loss for one second, would make her a bad person. She sees life through the context of what she doesn't have, preventing her from being happy when even her sister announces she's pregnant. When a parent scolds her child in a grocery store, Becca comes to the child's defense, not understanding how someone with a child could ever take that miracle for granted. Even further, it is unacceptable for those around her to be happy.
This relates to her husband, who is grieving all the same but in a completely different manner. Howie watches a video of his son over and over, and can't understand why his wife would take down his son's drawings off of the fridge. To him, coping means remembering...to Becca, it means never forgetting. Two similar sounding ways of dealing with life that couldn't be more different.
The movie is at it's best when we see the dynamics of the marriage play out between the two. It meanders a bit with a few sub-plot involving Howie and a gal he meets in therapy and when Becca becomes obsessed with the teenage driver who killed her son. Howie seeks solace in another person who gives him what Becca cannot, but Becca's fascination with the teenager borders on melo-drama. It's her only way of coping, sure, but it just feels like something that would happen in a movie...
But the final result of "Rabbit Hole" is a movie that tenderly tackles unspeakable loss...loss of a child, loss of love in a marriage, and loss of one's own grip on humanity. Time heals all wounds so they say, and what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger. Easy to say if you're not the one dealing with pain. "Rabbit Hole" is a great cinematic example that doesn't present a happy ever after, but leaves you understanding that life must go on, as it always does.
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