Based on a play by David Lindsay-Abaire
, it is about the life of two happily married people, Becca and Howie Corbett, whose lives end up being flipped upside down and forever changed by the death of their little boy, Danny, who they lost in a car accident.
The intimate relationship between the married couple is virtually non-existent now, which is driving a wedge between them and putting strain on their marriage. They both find support about their son’s death if different places. The Corbett’s, both drift apart, make surprising and dangerous choices as they both begin to carve their own path without destroying their marriage; this is where Howie seeks support in group therapy sessions and friends at the classes, whereas Becca gets dragged to them by Howie but ends up disliking them and find they aren’t working, she runs away from the other feelings and support of those in the group.
Becca, a business woman-turned-stay-at-home mother, who can be seen as quite cold, withdrawn and inconsolable, until she forms a rather odd bond with the teenager, Jason (Miles Teller) who was the driver of the car who ended her son's death. He is the creator of a comic strip about alternative universes that gives the film its title. Painful, emotional, and often funny, Becca's experiences lead her to find solace and closure in this mysterious relationship connected by similar thoughts of guilt and sorrow. Becca's fixation with Jason pulls her away from memories of Danny, while Howie immerses himself in the past; seeking refuge in the outsiders who offer him something Becca is unable to give. In my personal opinion I feel that Becca seeks for replacement in Jason, to try experience the time with a teenage boy that she never had with Danny.
Becca is quite bitter and harsh towards family, especially when her mother, Nat (Dianne Wiest) compares the death of her young boy to her brother who died of illegal drug use. Most scenes involving Wiest end up in a combination of both humour and heartfelt pain and can be very emotional; West portrays this character brilliantly and so in depth that you feel for her and just want to hug her after the insensitive comments from Becca/Kidman. Although her mother is trying to help and show that she feels the pain of losing a son, Becca refuses to see the connection. She is complete with anger towards anyone who suggests she still isn’t coping with the situation 8 months later. She in fact is trying to remove memories of him from around their home even as Howie clings to visceral reminders such as videos and drawings.
Nicole Kidman’s portrayal of Becca is honourably astonishing. She is subtle, fierce, brutally funny, tender when you least expect it, and battered by the feelings that hit her when she tries to forget and move on. Kidman is just purely gripping, really draws you in and makes you feel her pain and puts you in her shoes; this is exactly what you want from a film like this that involves such angst and depth into situations in reality.
The husband, Howie (Aaron Eckhart) absorbs himself in work and channels his grief into therapy as well. He briefly flirts with another grieving parent in the group therapy sessions but you really see his sense of fun and you feel happy for him. Unfortunately though this puts even more strain on their marriage and you watch what’s left of their relationship disintegrate. Eckhart is brilliant in this depiction of Howie; to cope with not only his son’s death but his wife’s attitude to the situation and his attitude towards her ways of moving on and pushing everyone away.
To those who have endured the death of a loved one, Rabbit Hole perfectly and poignantly captures the grief that lingers. It opposes the question of “What now? How do I cope with this?” It has the sense of My Sisters Keeper in it with the fight for sanity and loss of a child. It is both heartbreaking yet heart warming. The thought of death of a child is enough to bring any parent to tears but this film shows the true depth of the ways people chose to handle the situation; from wanting to preserve every little thing of the deceased person, or trying to get rid of it and move on. This is one aspect for why this film beats other grief-stricken films out there.
It is tenderly directed by John Cameron Mitchell, he may not be well known but I sure do hope he gets the credit deserved for this film. It is a very emotional and powerful drama that hits you hard due to its connection to reality.
Result: A fantastic 10/10. Rabbit Hole is one of the most honest, stark depictions of grief ever committed to film. It's not easy to get through without a few tears, but it does offer some measure of hope and humour; hit reality hard in the face.