Original review featured on The Doha Film Institute website.
Director: John Cameron Mitchell
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart and Dianne Wiest
Howie (Aaron Eckhart) and Becca (Nicole Kidman) were living the perfect suburban married life until they lost their 4-year old son. Eight months later, each one of them found a way to cope with grief, but these tragic events had a deep effect on the future of the couple and the people around them.
The screenplay is an adaptation by David Lindsay-Abaire of his 2005 play of the same name. This intimate picture digs deep into a couple trying hard to put the missing pieces of their life together, by adopting different interpretations of sorrow now that they’ve lost their most precious. The results are stunning; it is a perfectly written script spiced up with some very genuine acting. And regardless of its sad context, the film does not develop into a melodrama. On the contrary, it’s so real that it’s sometimes humorous.
Becca refuses to engage in any social activities, loathes group therapies because “there’s too much God talk”, the same God – according to her – who ruined her life and slaps people in the market for no valid reason. She builds a wall of denial around the accident by suffocating every memory of her son, as if erasing him visually will cure her soreness.
On the other hand, Howie’s opposite conduct clashes with his wife. While she is erasing the past, he immerses himself in recalling memories. He frequently watches videos of his son, and seeks refuge in old routines with friends or another woman (Sandra Oh). Not only that, he wants another child much to the furious reaction of Becca who couldn’t accept such a request at this stage.
This clash in communication damages the relationship at first, but eventually works as a wake-up call for both of them. Things become alarming as Becca clandestinely meets the teenager responsible of the death of her son, trying to find some sort of apology in his eyes and letting out her doubts about life. Howie considers loosing himself in another woman.
But these conflicts are not left for the couple alone, as they expand and affect Becca’s immediate family as well. She reacts quite aggressively against her mother (Dianne Wiest) who is trying hard to help, and she resents her sister’s (Tammy Blanchard) pregnancy, becoming obsessive about it. She believes her sister is irresponsible and doesn’t deserve to be a mother. Becca screams out her pain in the only way she can, hoping someone will understand.
Rabbit Hole is a beautiful film about the harsh reality of bereavement, well written with stunning performances – not only for Nicole Kidman’s Oscar nominated performance – but for the whole cast, I must say. The film captures the soul of these characters in a beautiful homage to those who’ve lost a dear one. It is a reality check on the consequences of grief if dragged in a hostile direction. After all life goes on and it’s a personal choice one makes.
The film suggests that everything falls into forgetfulness, into a ‘Rabbit Hole’. But, there still remains a lot of hope, love, intimacy and humor in this brilliant film that I highly recommend.