Rabbit Hole - Movie Review

  • 03 February 2011

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

After two iconic films (Hedwig and Shortbus), Mitchell deploys his distinctive directorial style to adapt Lindsay-Abaire's play for the big screen. And he brings a remarkably light tough to the heavy subject matter, creating a film that deeply moves us.

Becca and Howie (Kidman and Eckhart) are a wealthy couple in the New York suburbs, but their life is coloured by intense grief after the accidental death of their 4-year-old son. Unable to move on, they struggle to integrate their loss into their daily routine, attending group-counselling sessions that Becca can't bear due to other parents' religious platitudes. Meanwhile, her mother (Wiest) and sister (Blanchard) add both comfort and stress, and Becca's chance encounter with the teen (Teller) who was driving the fateful car sparks her to take unusual action.

The story's theatrical origins show in the way nothing much happens in the film: the focus is on the themes rather than the people. But this allows space for the cast to explore their characters, taking us along with them in unexpected directions. All of the performances are raw and sometimes painfully honest, as people blurt out things they really shouldn't say. They're unable to discover easy answers, and working through this is going to take time. With rather a lot of pain along the way.

Kidman and Eckhart are terrific in the central roles, conveying a lovely sense of history in their relationship, even if the script gives them no back-story at all (what does Howie do for a living that lets them live such a privileged life?). We really feel their connection, the brittle humour they find in everyday situations, the deep commitment that might help them make it through the stages of grief with their marriage intact but permanently altered.

Of the ensemble around them, Wiest and especially Teller stand out with subtle, searching performances that have moments of razor-sharp insight. And the stripped-down acting style echoes the way Mitchell approaches the material, dwelling on the plodding ordinariness of the situation by using sharp comedy, sudden emotional responses and wrenching anguish. Death is part of the fabric of life, as are the pain and confusion that go with it.

Image caption Rabbit Hole

Facts and Figures

Year: 2010

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 91 mins

In Theaters: Friday 14th January 2011

Box Office USA: $2.2M

Box Office Worldwide: $2.2M

Budget: $10M

Distributed by: Lionsgate Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Fresh: 163 Rotten: 26

IMDB: 7.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: John Cameron Mitchell

Producer: Nicole Kidman, Gigi Pritzker, Per Saari, Leslie Urdang, Dean Vanech

Screenwriter: David Lindsay-Abaire

Starring: Nicole Kidman as Becca, Sandra Oh as Gaby, Dianne Wiest as Nat, Aaron Eckhart as Howie, Tammy Blanchard as Izzy, Miles Teller as Jason, Giancarlo Esposito as Auggie, Jon Tenney as Rick

Also starring: Gigi Pritzker, Leslie Urdang, David Lindsay-Abaire