Rabbit Hole (2010)
Based on a Pulitzer-winning play of the same name by David Lindsay-Abaire, Rabbit Hole is a film about a husband and wife pair, Howie (Aaron Eckhart) and Becca (Nicole Kidman), who live in suburban America and face a very difficult period in their life: they have lost their small child and are grieving. However, their coping strategies begin to diverge drastically, especially when Becca makes a contact with a teenaged boy who was involved in their son’s tragedy. Nicole Kidman gives one of the best performances in her career in this beautiful, nuanced film that sometimes feels like a slow train-wreck, but which ultimately says a lot about seeking solace in the most unexpected of places, overcoming hardest losses in life and finding hope.
The film explores grief from a curious, bold perspective. There are elements of a mystery in the film’s beginning as the story does not quite disclose the problem facing Howie and Becca and we find out what really happened step-by-step, with the culmination being at the end of the film. From misunderstandings and avoidance techniques practiced by neighbours, to disastrous group therapy sessions, the film covers a very familiar territory of psychology behind dealing with loss, steps taken to overcome it and how others may react to a person grieving. Howie and Becca take different paths in dealing with the situation (Becca is passive- aggressive and in denial, whereas Howie tries to move on actively), but the result they want is the same – to make their lives better, or rather – bearable. Even though the film deals with a traumatic topic, one can say that there is a certain beauty in every pain since every sorrow presupposes that there were once moments of happiness. Thus, the film also tries to show a chance for happiness for the couple and one step forward maybe to try to let other people understand the loss and coping mechanisms. The story demonstrates that no matter how bleak and traumatic one’s past can be or how difficult a present moment, there should always be hope that tomorrow will be brighter.
The main beauty of Rabbit Hole lies in small details, in the theme and in the performance by Kidman who almost single-handedly pilots the film to success. Even though each character/actor has their own spotlight, clearly no one is as good in Rabbit Hole as Kidman, who is also incidentally a film producer. She was rightly nominated for her performance by the Academy in the category of Best Actress and if the competition were not already fierce, she would also have been a worthy winner (I would have personally given Kidman an Oscar over Natalie Portman, who seemed to have stepped over many people (including her then fiancé’s ex girlfriend and her own double) to gain her Black Swan award). Kidman’s sensitive portrayal of a wife battling hidden demons is unforgettable as she was also able to convey all the nuances of grief and how the condition can both isolate a person from others and inject that terrifying despair and awkwardness into everyday life.
Considerate and intimate, even though psychologically and emotionally intense, Rabbit Hole may not be a film for everyone, but it is still a heart-felt, moving work and one of the best-acted explorations of grief on screen. 8/10