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RABBIT HOLE
DVD region 2. Metrodome.

Rabbit HoleAlthough 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 extravagance.

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..

DAVID FLINT

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