Monday, January 10, 2011

Rabbit Hole

Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Kidman and Eckhart Co-Star in Adaptation of Pulitzer Prize-Winning Play

How long does it take to get over the death of a child? Maybe forever, suggests Rabbit Hole, a poignant meditation on mourning based on David Lindsay-Abaire’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name.
Directed by John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch), the film revolves around the crumbling relationship of a grief-stricken couple struggling to find meaning in their shattered lives after the loss of their four year-old son. They both blame themselves for Danny’s (Phoenix List) untimely demise even though he was hit by a car after impulsively chasing his dog out into the street.
The point of departure is eight months after the accident, which is where we find once happily-married Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie Corbett (Aaron Eckhart) not only still inconsolable but now emotionally estranged to boot. The Corbetts’ problems start with their incompatible coping mechanisms, as her desire to eradicate any painful trace of Danny’s existence flies in the face of his inclination to take some solace in nostalgic, if bittersweet reminders.
Consequently, Howie is bothered by Becca’s removing Danny’s photos from the fridge and by her donating his clothes to charity. Furthermore, he’d like to have another baby, but she has no interest in intimacy. In fact, she’s ready to sell the house.
Even the bereavement support group they join just drives another wedge between them. For, as an atheist, Becca can’t stand the organization’s holier than thou moderator’s presumptuous references to religion. Embittered, she believes that, if there is a God, then he must be a ”sadistic prick.”
So, she stops attending sessions, oblivious to the fact Howie has developed the hots for the married member (Sandra Oh) whose shoulder he’s been leaning on. But Becca has her own secret liaison, an unlikely friendship blossoming with the teen driver (Miles Teller) of the auto which killed Danny.
As strange as the above scenarios must sound, credit Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart and their talented support cast for handling such potentially melodramatic material in an appropriately subdued fashion. Though relentlessly-grim and given to the undeniably bizarre, this character-driven drama does convincingly convey a real sense of how easily a rock-solid marriage might be irreversibly ripped asunder by an unthinkable tragedy.
A plausible portrait of what transpires when bad things happen to good people without faith in God or a lucky rabbit’s foot.

Excellent (3.5 stars)
Rated PG-13 for profanity, drug use and mature themes.
Running time: 92 Minutes
Studio: Lionsgate Films

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