Film Review – Rabbit Hole

Rabbit Hole (M)

Directed by: John Cameron Mitchell

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Dianne Wiest

Four and a half stars

Review by: Julian Wright


It can be difficult to find an audience for a film whose lead characters must suffer through life’s hardships. Even though most of the time there is a glimmer of hope in these movies, many people do not want to spend their hard-earned cash on a film that will ask them to be in the same state of mind as the traumatised characters. Teenage boys want the visceral experience of cars that turn into robots and ladies want Pretty Woman’s fairy tale ending. This is unfortunate because some of the most rewarding films are those that explore raw emotion and human resilience.

Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie (Aaron Eckhart) spend most of Rabbit Hole in such a dramatic and heartbreaking situation that to many it would be hard just to relate to them, but its bravery in tackling the subject matter is commendable. Not as hard to take as the similarly themed Reservation Road (2007), Rabbit Hole looks at how a couple deals with loss after their son is accidentally killed.

Some time has passed since Becca and Howie’s son was hit by a car in front of their home and killed. Becca, who had given up her career to focus on motherhood, now struggles to fill her day with activities to take her mind off of the incident. She is mostly home-bound but her haven reminds her of him down to the fingerprints on the walls.

She has gotten rid of the dog that their son chased onto the road, framed photos of him and now begins to take his paintings off of the fridge in a bid to move on. But when she accidentally (or was it?) erases a video of him from Howie’s Iphone, the tension comes to the surface. He accuses her of trying to erase the memory of their son, she claims she is just trying to move on.

Group therapy doesn’t work them. Becca rudely interjects a member’s heartfelt story about God taking their child because He needed another Angel. “Why didn’t He just make one?” Becca asks. Seeing as the couple can’t come to terms together, they find their own solace elsewhere. Becca befriends the teenager that killed her son and Howie becomes close with group therapy member Gaby (Sandra Oh).

While Reservation Road was almost unbearable to watch in its unflinching and harrowing look at losing a child, Rabbit Hole does not wallow in depression. The script and actors keep emotions in check and even sprinkle the odd amusing moment to offer a third dimension.

Everything rings true here from the awkwardness felt when Becca’s sister announces her pregnancy to the nicely performed argument that erupts between husband and wife that avoids melodrama and induces chills.

Kidman turns in a less showy performance than in previous failed big budget efforts, one that is more on par with her best work in To Die For. It is unfortunate to note that her last great performance was 15 years ago, but better late than never. Perhaps she learned her lesson after a string of dud remakes and working with a much smaller budget has enhanced her abilities.

Give the big budget blockbusters and the sugary sweet rom coms a miss just this once and treat yourself. Honest and believable with spot on performances and restrained direction, this is one dramatic hole you should venture into for the rewarding experience.

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One Response to “Film Review – Rabbit Hole”

  1. Rabbit Hole may sound bleak, and it surely is at times, but its refreshingly new take on the subject coupled with Kidman’s mammoth performance make it a rewarding experience. Good review, check out my film when you can!

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