Monday, January 3, 2011

Rabbit Hole: Film Review

In the recently released film "Rabbit Hole" parents Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie (Aaron Eckhart) are going though the motions of life. If that's what you can really call it. Eight months after their 4-year-old chased the dog out in the street and was struck dead by a car. They are going though the motions of life without living it. They don't have sex, each time they speak it seams like a fight is about to start, Becca stands staring at pictures they've kept on the refrigerator while Howie spends his time downstairs watching videos of their son on his cell phone. Friends and family try to bring them back into the living but they always seems like they want to stay in the past when their son was alive which leaves to everyone bing put in uncomfortable positions. The film "Rabbit Hole" is based on a Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning play by David Lindsay-Abaire and it finds a human realistic way of telling this type of story without falling into movie of the week cliches and actually brings some humor within the characters.

As a couple Becca (Kidman) and Howie (Eckhart) upon his desire to feel a connection to other lost souls attend a group therapy session for mourners, and Becca finds it's a room full of self-righteous therapy addicts, who seem to survive because of their pain. Howie finds someone in the group that he can talk to Gaby played by Sandra Oh who with her husband, who also seem to be ready to move on has been attending for eight years.

Gaby gives Howie what Becca isn't sympathy, a chance to live in the past of memories he had of his life. Becca is present but I wouldn't call it living. She stairs at things left behind by the child with an emotional blankness and then decides the best way to deal with her grief is to move forward. She isolates herself from everyone in her life her mother played by a quiet sadness by Dianne Wiest who lost her own son to drug addiction and her younger sister Tammy Blanchard who has just annouced that she is expecting a child.

At this point it seems like between all the characters they've reached a point of touchiness where nothing ever seems to be the right thing to say and truly is there ever a right thing to say to make it easier? What makes John Cameron Mitchell's (who also directed and starred in the film "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" film so compelling is that it investigates what time will do for pain and shows how some people will always stay in pain because there's as much comfort there as there is letting go of the pain.

It's handled in a realistic way where you do se humor in certain areas just like in life and when the characters start reentering life you feel for them. This is the type of film that knows it's subject matter doesn't play it for the total sadness that it could of but more for the growth of the healing process. When a love one passes some people feel that they are disrespecting the love one by letting go of the pain that is built in but some feel that by not moving on with their own life they're also disrespecting that loved one.

Becca is caught in a bubble of pain and finds a way to move forward with her life so she can heal in a surprising twist she meets someone who helps her along in that process. Howie for the most part wants to stay in that bubble because that's where his fondest memories of his son are.

As I was watching the film I was knocked over by Nicole Kidman's performance. I've always thought of her as one of the best actress of her generation but many feel she has a distance to herself that they can't warm themselves to. In this movie she applies those qualities brilliantly here. A mother that is grieving the loss of her son always is somewhat emotionally distant because a part of her is gone but in Kidman's performance you feel the life coming back into her body. In this movie she's the person who changes herself in order to go on in life and get by because that's life. Aaron Eckhart has the low-key challenge of staying on one level though most of the movie because he doesn't want to let go of the pain which I assume from personal experience is a fatherly thing to do.

"Rabbit Hole" is an entertaining, realistic, and surprisingly amusing, under the circumstances. The film thanks to the work of Mitchell and David Lindsay-Abaire's screenplay see the stages of grieve better then the characters can and tackle it in a way that doesn't feel depressing but feels like life. When these horrible things happen the only thing we can do is get by and move on and realize that there is nothing like anger, blame, and grief that matter in the long run just love and acceptance and live.

I would recommend this movie in a heartbeat to people and say that if nothing else Nicole Kidman is a lock for an Academy Award Nomination for this movie.


Anonymous said...

OMG. Kidman's stitches look like they're gonna pop out in that last photo!

Seriously, your review makes me want to see this movie. As depressing as it sounds ...

StevenD said...

Another thing I was impressed with was that Kidman's face did move and she was the Kidman from "Flirting." "To Die For," "The Hours," "Birth" and the films that you thought were worthy of her talents instead of some film to try to get her an Oscar Nomination (Cold Mountain.) The subject is painful but the creators are smart enough to take an outsiders view of the piece which can cause humor, sadness, everything.