Sunday, October 9, 2011

Rabbit Hole

By s. Sunday, October 9, 2011 , , , , ,
(91 min, 2010)
Director: John Cameron Mitchell
Writers: David Lindsay-Abaire (screenplay), David Lindsay-Abaire (play)
Stars: Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart and Dianne Wiest

Merging universes.
“'Cause I can't face the evening straight
you can offer me escape
houses move and houses speak
if you take me there you'll get relief, relief, relief, relief
relief, relief
it's too much, too bright, too powerful”

- Radiohead, Last Flowers

Becca and Howie Corbett are a happily married couple whose perfect world is forever changed when their young son, Danny, is killed by a car. Becca tries to redefine her existence in a surreal landscape of well-meaning family and friends. Becca's experiences lead her to find solace in a mysterious relationship with a troubled young comic-book artist, Jason - the teenage driver of the car that killed Danny., while Howie immerses himself in the past, seeking refuge in outsiders who offer him something Becca is unable to give.

This is small movie about big things, life changing things. The worst thing that can happen to a parent is experiencing the loss of a child. Especially young one, who didn't get to live life at least a little bit. “Rabbit Hole” portrays the aftermath of such situation – Becca and Howie lost their son. They stick together, but their marriage is shaking – not because of the loss, but because of the different ways they deal with it.

Becca is choosing escape – she gets rid of everything that reminds her of her son, she doesn't like talking about his death in the group, she wants to move to different house. She knows she will never see her Danny again and tries to let go of all the memories and sentimentality as fast as she can. So that her pain could go away.

Howie hangs on to the past – he watches video with his son, he resents Becca for making it “as if he never existed”, he goes to the group and tries to establish relationships with other couples hurting from loss. What's interesting is that both of those approaches work, eventually, but only after the couple realizes that the other one simply deals with unimaginable tragedy the best one can. It happens when Howie tries Becca's approach and when she finally embraces her pain – something Howie has been doing the whole time.

Becca has the support of her mother, who also lost her child and her sister. Becca resents their efforts at first, getting annoyed at her mother comparisons between the death of Becca's young boy and her mother's 30 year old son. Both of the sides have right – the mother always feel the pain when she loses her child, no matter how old it was. But on the other hand, death by accident and death of the small child is always more shocking than the overdose of adult. Becca is constantly reminded of her son – her sister is pregnant, when she visits her mother she sees the dog Danny chased to the street. She doesn't need Danny's things around there to never be able to forget him.

Both Becca and Howie engage in friendships – Howie befriends woman from the group and spends a lot of time with her and Becca – which is the strangest aspect of the movie – seeks contact with the boy who run over her son. I thought that idea, as interesting as it may be, was not believable. Yes, here are two people joined forever by cruel fate in the form of one horrifying event. But how could a mother look in the face of a person who is responsible for the death of her child? Even if that was accidental, even if that was not the fault of that boy, he will forever be Danny's killer. I couldn't believe that story arc, but the character of Becca was so strange, it was more plausible than in any other movie.

The focus in the film is set mostly on her and Nicole Kidman delivers her best performance in years. It's nice to see her in the movie that's worthy of her ability, after horrible films like “Australia” and “Nine” here is the movie where Kidman finally gets to play interesting character and she does terrific job. There is Oscar talk, but I don't think it would be deserved. Kidman was the best in “Moulin Rouge!”, “The Others”, “To die for” and “The Hours” and she created truly unforgettable performances there. Aaron Eckhart sadly hides in the shadow of Kidman. The movie doesn't focus as much on him as on her and he is not given too much to work with. But he has many great scenes. They may even be equally good, but the character of Becca is really interesting, the mother trying to erase hurt through slowly confronting the pain and erasing the memories simultaneously, whilst Eckhart is stereotypical grieving father.

Dianne Wiest provides strong support as Becca's mother, she was fantastic and the scenes she has with Kidman really feel like mother-daughter relationship. Miles Teller is incredibly uninteresting and is close to ruining the scenes due to complete lack of any attempts in acting.

The score is tender and beautiful, the cinematography frequently surprises. “Rabbit Hole” is not a movie about loss – it's a movie about coping. Life goes on and you have to go along with it.


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