DVD region 2. Metrodome.
John Cameron Mitchell remains best known in cult circles for his
camp rock opera Hedwig and the Angry Inch and
the explicit sex movie Shortbus, Rabbit
Hole may prove to be his most interesting film –
a stripped down, quietly effective study of grief that manages
to be emotionally raw without labouring the point.
Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie (Aaron Eckhart) are a married
couple struggling to come to terms with the death of their four
year old son several months before the story opens. As the couple
try to hold it together, they find themselves becoming distant
from each other, as each copes with the loss in their own way
– Howie insists on visiting a weekly support group, where
the clichéd talk of ‘God wanting another angel’
irritates atheist Becca, and he continually wallows in memories
of his son, obsessively watching an iPhone video clip; Becca,
on the other hand, seems keen to remove visual reminders of the
child, but has become cold and distant from those around her,
alienating friends and family.
As time goes on, Howie finds a connection with support group member
Sandra Oh, while Becca begins to meet with the teenage boy who
accidentally caused her son’s death, and through these separate
connections, the couple begin to find the peace that can bring
them back together.
Rabbit Hole could easily be an overly melodramatic
story, but Mitchell and screenwriter David Lindsay-Abaire (adapting
from his own play) keep things on a low level, allowing the story
to unfold slowly, while the uniformly excellent cast (Kidman is
outstanding, but the other cast members match her) also mange
to bring an admirable sense of subtlety to their performances.
In many ways, the pacing and feel of this film remind me of Todd
Haynes Safe – another admirably quiet and
restrained film from a director more known for visual and thematic
This is a beautiful, raw and emotionally honest film that offers
no easy answers to the questions it poses, but instead suggests
that everyone needs to deal with loss in their own way. With some
effective stabs of humour, genuine moments of darkness and a convincing
combination of anger, denial and forgiveness, Rabbit Hole
is quite brilliant..
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