Rabbit Hole (2010)
Starring Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Dianne Weist, Miles Teller, Tammy Blanchard, and Sandra Oh
Directed by John Cameron Mitchell
On the "want to see" list for months now, I was worried that the build-up to Rabbit Hole would lead to disappointment. Fortunately, that wasn't the case. Although I expected the film to be a bit more emotionally draining and difficult to watch, this tale of a couple who loses their four year-old son in a tragic accident is quite powerful and bolstered by some great performances all around.
Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart are Becca and Howie who, as the film opens, are still reeling from the death of their young child eight months before. While there may have been attempts to move on, nothing has really helped their grief and their relationship is suffering at this point. Howie finds some modicum of solace in group therapy with other parents who have lost their kids, but Becca finds the process unbearable. Instead, she follows around the eighteen year-old teenager who accidentally hit their son with his car, but even she is unsure what relief that will provide her. Regardless, neither of the two are emotionally healthy.
The performances of Kidman and Eckhart carry this film and without their strength, Rabbit Hole would not have been as solid as it is. Suprisingly (to me at least), Kidman's Becca is the more subdued of the two characters. Not without her emotional moments, Becca is a character who has internalized her pain and grief, only releasing it when pushed to the limit by others. Instead, it's Aaron Eckhart's Howie who is the more vocal of the couple. Played rather perfectly, Eckhart's Howie is the character that really hit me. I don't know if it's just because we're not used to males wearing their emotions on their sleeves, but Eckhart's performance is still marinating in my mind several hours after I watched the film. I'm quite surprised Mr. Eckhart didn't gain any awards traction this past year with this role.
Admittedly, probably because I was so looking forward to this one, I felt a tiny bit let down. I was expecting the film, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name (and adapted for the screen by its playwright David Lindsay-Abaire), to be a bit more "loud," but instead was treated to a much more subdued emotional display. It's a case of wrongly placed expectations. That being said, I really want to see this story played out on a stage. Credit goes to screenwriter/playwright Lindsay-Abaire who expanded his five-person stage play into a well-rounded film that never once felt boxed in (of course, credit must also go to director John Cameron Mitchell for making this feel like a movie rather than a filmed play).
Overall, this is a solid film with some great performances (that you'll very likely see pop up in my 2010 RyMickey Awards...whenever I get around to finishing them).
The RyMickey Rating: B