Directed by John Cameron Mitchell. Starring Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Dianne Wiest.
Oscar-nominated and critically acclaimed, Rabbit Hole has a simple premise: parents who’ve lost their child in a road accident and how they grieve and cope with the trauma. But the riveting performances of Kidman and Eckhart coupled with poignant music make the film heart-wrenching.
Nicole Kidman’s foray into producing, Rabbit Hole is based on a Pulitzer prize-winning play. Kidman and Eckhart play Becca and Howie, a couple torn apart after the loss of their four-year-old son Danny who was hit by a car while chasing his dog across the street. They do the American thing and go for group sessions with other bereaved parents but Becca has nothing but contempt for them. When one of the parents says their daughter was taken away because God needed another ‘angel’, Becca’s response was simply, “Why didn’t he just make another one? He’s God after all!” After that, only Howie attends the meetings.
The fact that Becca’s sister is pregnant and her mother (Weist) keeps comparing her dead brother who dies of a drug overdose to Danny doesn’t make the healing process easier for Becca. She tries her best to push the memories out of her life and ends up befriending the boy who caused their son’s death, in turn alienating Howie who seeks solace in the company of another grieving parent played by Grey’s Anatomy’s Sandra Oh.
My colleague and friend from Filmfare got teary-eyed during this film. I offered him my handkerchief. He had his own. But the emotions are never there just to make you cry, there’s no contrived sadness. Some critics have commented it’s a bit ‘tastefully packaged’ so it all looks good. This is true, but I don’t think it diminishes the depression and angst of this couple, who are trying to give the outward appearance of moving on, getting on with life, trying to patch up their broken relationship and dealing with issues of guilt and forgiveness.
The scenes between Kidman and Eckhart and between Kidman and Diane Weist are some of the best moments of this film, indeed of most films about family dynamics. What struck me at the beginning of the film was how old Kidman looked. You can see it on her face. But her eyes, those sapphire-blue eyes are as radiant and expressive as ever. And with age, there is a rich maturity that she has brought to this role that makes it so special. Ekhart plays the father trying to pick his life up brilliantly and there’s a scene where he and Kidman argue that’s power-packed. Weist plays the doddering but well-meaning mother to perfection, with humour and warmth. Rabbit Hole will touch you, hold you and immerse you in its depth of human emotion and tale of tragedy and healing.