Director John Cameron Mitchell’s “Rabbit Hole” does not offer any easy answers; there are events in life that are so contradictory to expectation that it is difficult to grasp onto their absurdity—things so detrimental to the congruity of daily life that merely existing becomes a perpetual trial. Like a murmur of the heart, the pulse continues, but will forever be off beat.
“Rabbit Hole” focuses on the lives of Howie (Aaron Eckhart) and Becca (Nicole Kidman) eight months after the sudden death of their four-year-old son, Danny. While it may sound like this film is the downer of the year, the humanity within the characters escapes into a beautiful mosaic of life in the face of tragedy. This is not a movie about miserable people who suffer a horrible experience and sulk about, spilling their angst over friends and family. This is a story of coping—of healing—after life has been turned upside-down.
In the absence of their son, the couple is forced to conquer the palpable silence that has engulfed their household. Residual evidence of Danny’s existence haunts them. Tiny fingerprints mar the doorway; a child’s bed set still occupies the room at the end of the hall; toys sit idly. As time passes, the sentimentality of the most insignificant of these things grows without bound, and, yet, their grief seems not to subside.
The film, written by David Lindsay-Abaire from his acclaimed play of the same name, is one of subtleties. Whether it is the line between a smile and a frown, or the significance linked to a moment of clarity, “Rabbit Hole” calmly examines the deviation between normalcy and adversity.
“Rabbit Hole” depends heavily on the believability of the actors in their roles. Kidman has earned a well-deserved Academy Award nomination for Best Actress, and this is easily her best acting since 2002’s “The Hours”. Eckhart, whose performances are always fascinating, plays his part wonderfully, creating a character both genuine and complex.
While much of the Academy Award buzz has passed over the film, it is not one to ignore. A poignant drama, “Rabbit Hole” is a deep and personal journey about how far people will go to find light in the darkest recesses of life.
DIRECTOR: John Cameron Mitchell SCREENWRITER: David Lindsay-Abaire PRODUCERS: Bill Lischak, Linda McDonough, Brian O’Shea CAST: Aaron Eckhart, Nicole Kidman, Dianne Wiest, Miles Teller MPAA RATING: PG-13