Starring Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart and Dianne Wiest
Written by David Lindsay-Abaire
Directed by John Cameron Mitchell
Running time 91 min
MPAA Rating LPG-13
Selig Film Rating Cable
Way back in the old days of the cinema, the studios made "women's pictures" otherwise known as "weepy's". They were filled with challenging stories of sadness, morose and dour. They were designed for 'a good cry'. Since the advent of television and day-time dramas, the picture has fallen to the wayside. Every once and a while, someone decides to bring the genre back. The latest is the well-acted Rabbit Hole.
Based on the play of the same name, Rabbit Hole is the story of a couple Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie (Aaron Eckhart). They live the perfect suburban life but also a very tragic life. It seems that their son Danny has been killed by a young driver. Each deals with the loss in a different way. Where Howie wants to go to group therapy, Becca sees it more as picking at a sore wound. They both seek a degree of solace with others. Howie shows interest in another and Becca begins to talk to the young man, Jason, who was driving the car. The film also brings in the family, including Becca's mom ( Dianne Wiest) as the empathic elder who also buried a son.
There are moments of bitter acting-out like when Becca slaps a woman at a grocery store. It is a fit of rage that underpins all that is going on inside her mind. We also gets humorous moments when Aaron goes to the group meeting stoned and cannot stop laughing at the tale of another in the grief session. The mixture of comedy and pathos drives to the conclusion of Rabbit Hole.
This a brilliant turn by Nicole Kidman. She wears the emotional scars on her sleeve, trying to cope with an unfathomable loss. It is a measured performance that has little elements of breakout violence, a woman trying to keep herself together while still wanting to scream at God.
Dianne Wiest plays Nicole's mom and delivers another stunning performance in a career of stunning performances. She is a mother who has also lost her child, though many years ago. As she tries to bond with her daughter, the daughter resents and distances the advance. The tug of war between these two woman is the highlight of the film.
Aaron Eckhart didn't seem to be on his A-game here. The character is a bit one-sided and flat and he never finds any moment to shine. The drug sub-plot between him and another in the support group never feels honest.
Director John Cameron Mitchell takes the play from David Lindsay-Abaire and gives the audience a true sense of an entire world. Usually plays turned into screenplays have a boxed in feel, trapped by the idea of the stage. Here there is a true feeling of an entire world and not a filmed play
The best way to describe Rabbit Hole is a supremely well-acted soap opera. The job of the film is to generate tears, which the film does in buckets.