Adapted from the stage play of the same name, the film Rabbit Hole examines the ways in which a married couple cope with the loss of their 4-year old son. Moving away from the initial aftermath of such an emotional and life-changing loss the story takes place eight months after his death. It focuses on what happens as days go by, and how we as people move forward when unexpected and unforseen actions rip apart our simple existence.
The opening scene of Rabbit Hole takes place in an idyllic backyard garden. A nearly unrecognizable Nicole Kidman (Becca) is planting a colorful, and quite beautiful flower. Everything appears to be perfect with the white picket fence and picture perfect suburban house in the background. But this home holds a great deal of pain that will be examined as the film progresses and we learn just what struggles Becca (Kidman) and Howie (Aaron Eckhart) deal with each and every day inside the pristine walls of their home. Losing a child is shown to be one of the most difficult things a person can live through, but moving past it shows to be even more straining. Through the characters struggles you see how life does go on but how can you accept that simple fact when you feel none of it should have happened. As Becca angrily states during a group therapy, “Why didn’t God just make another angel”. This one line says so much more than any long-winded monologue ever could in relation to Becca’s feelings and Kidman delivers it with great force while her eyes do the rest.
As the film deals with heavy subjects such as grief, infidelity, the re-establishment of intimacy, and forgiveness it rarely reaches the level of dramatic seriousness one might expect. The script, by David Lindsay-Abaire, is full of dynamic dialogue and lines of great emotional depth, as well as being pertinent to the trials of life. There is a level of humor though that permeates the entire film. Many scenes evoke laughter in the viewer instead of empathy. The only explanation I can find is the uncomfortable nature of what is being shown on screen. The character’s are constantly being put in situations where they must relive the horrors of the past and even explain it to complete strangers or their own family. These are the times you would expect to be brought to tears yet you are not. In life humor is used when people are nervous, excited, depressed (sarcasm), and in times of great pain to mask the true feelings beneath the surface. That is what Rabbit Hole does without even trying, it represents the reality of the situation and how even the most devastating moments can cause bouts of laughter. Then there are the lines written out of pure genius. A great many of them belonging to the fantastic Dianne Wiest as Becca’s mother Nat. Having lost her adult son previously she is aware of what Becca is going through and tries to help as much as possible; even as Becca pushes her away because the circumstances were wholly different. Near the end of the film Nat answers Becca with the most profound, honest, and altogether truthful statement about living past what happened. She states, “At some point it becomes bearable.” Bearable indeed. Life will never be as it was for Becca and Howie, nor should it be. But life does go on, one step, day, and event at a time.
With the performances by Nicole Kidman, Dianne Weist, and Aaron Eckhart and screenplay by David Lindsay-Abaire Rabbit Hole is a film dependent on performance and dialogue delivery amongst the characters. Thankfully everyone involved has succeeded at bringing everything together making it not the easiest film to watch in terms of subject matter but a film worth watching for what it represents candidly.
The FilmFracture breakdown:
Production: 3 clocks
Acting: 3 clocks
Writing: 3 clocks
Special Screenings Section of Festival
(USA, 2010, 92 mins)
Independent Cinema, Gay/Lesbian maker/interest, Also Playing AFM
Directed By: John Cameron Mitchell
Screenwriter: David Lindsay-Abaire
Executive Producers: Dan Revers, William Lischak, Linda McDonough, Brian O’Shea
Producers: Leslie Urdang, Dean Vanech, Nicole Kidman, Per Saari, Gigi Pritzker
Cinematographer: Frank G. DeMarco
Editor: Joe Klotz
Music: Anton Sanko
Production Design: Kalina Ivanov
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Dianne Wiest, Miles Teller, Tammy Blanchard, Sandra Oh
This film was screened at AFI FEST 2010 presented by AUDI. For more information about the festival please refer to its website here.