SLIFF 2010 Review: RABBIT HOLE
Losing someone you love, especially a young child, must be the most difficult thing to endure as a conscious human being. I believe we all can agree on that. However, how each and every one of us would cope with such a tragedy is the varied and unpredictable element that John Cameron Mitchell explores in his new film.
RABBIT HOLE is an intimately personal journey through one couple’s attempt to deal with the accidental death of their four-year old son. Becca and Howie Corbett, played by Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart, travel the jagged path of recovery, torn between honoring and hiding the memory of their son. The film opens with the couple appearing relatively well adjusted, but what evolves is the dangerous undercurrent waiting to boil over and break though the fragile façade of stability in their relationship and themselves.
Mitchell paints a picturesque portrait of the New York suburbs, beautifully capturing the world of hope and joy around the Corbett’s while injecting just enough darkness into the visual interpretation as to suggest something less innocent hiding in the shadows, waiting to be unleashed. It’s this subtle element of uncertainty and fear that slowly seeps to the forefront until finally erupting in one of the most convincing, most painfully real depictions of emotional pain delivered by two actors at once on screen.
Nicole Kidman is beyond worthy of an Oscar nomination for her role as Becca. She is distance from her Howie, while rarely leaving the house. Combined with the uncomfortable experience of watching her bottle up her feelings, Becca is a frightening character to empathize with, but we do so out of instinct. Her cold disposition and uninviting demeanor keeps the audience at arm’s length as we struggle to embrace her and say “its gonna be ok.”
Howie, on the other hand, pursues a completely opposite approach to coping with the loss of his sun. He goes about life with a positive demeanor, while quietly honoring his son’s memory. This becomes a direct conflict as Becca subconsciously works to remove any evidence of their son from their daily lives. Eckhart also delivers a surprisingly deep and accomplished performance, sharing a side of him self no seen before. Kidman and Eckhart work brilliantly together. Dianne Wiest is a welcome face, portraying Becca’s mother, who also has had her share of loss to cope with, but her efforts to support Becca develop into an additional level of tension that adds depth to Becca’s world.
RABBIT HOLE is an extraordinary film, combining the sadness and hopelessness of grief with the darker humor and irony that comes with the Corbett’s participation in a support group and the family dynamics that occur parallel to their tragedy. The title of the film is derived from a creative project being pursued by another character connected to the Corbett’s – a wonderful surprise twist in the story I will not ruin.
RABBIT HOLE played during the 19th Annual Stella Artois St. Louis International Film Festival.