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Rabbit Hole

Rabbit Hole

By Patrick Samuel • February 3rd, 2011
Static Mass Rating: 5/5
Metrodome Distribution

Release date: February 4th 2011
Certificate (UK): 12A
Running time: 91 minutes

Director: John Cameron Mitchell

Cast: Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Sandra Oh, Dianne Wiest, Miles Teller, Tammy Blanchard

Offical Movie Site

When David Lindsay-Abaire began writing Rabbit Hole, he remembered the words of his professor: “Write about the thing that frightens you most.” For the longest time he wasn’t sure what that was, but then he had a son, and suddenly, it made perfect sense. “When I thought about what it would be like for me to lose my son, I experienced the grip of fear in the most profound way.”

It went on to earn five Tony Award nominations including Best Play and won the Pulitzer Prize in 2007. It also brought the attention of Nicole Kidman who read a review and became determined to work with Lindsay-Abaire to adapt it into a movie which she would produce with her own company Blossom Films.

Rabbit Hole

In the film, Nicole stars alongside Aaron Eckhart as Becca and Howie Corbett, a once happily married couple, but when their four-year-old son is killed in a road accident outside their house, their lives fall apart. We meet them eight months after the tragedy and they are shadows of their former selves, the light gone from their lives. Becca shuns the neighbours and parties, choosing instead to stay at home, gardening and exercising while Howie goes to work and tries to get on with life, but he can’t. They go through the motions but they aren’t really alive anymore. At least not in this version of themselves…

Becca sees her child’s handprints on the door handles and is desperate to get rid of his clothes, pictures and even sell the house while Howie clings wholeheartedly to his memories, haunted by the sound of him laughing and playing with the family dog they’ve now given away. But it’s not all about grief either. One of the most enjoyable and surprising things about Rabbit Hole is how true the Corbett’s are to real-life couples; the way Becca reminds Howie that dinner is almost ready when he’s about to take a shower made me smile because that’s exactly how we are at home too. By making Corbett’s seem more like us makes their situation becomes much more real and this is Rabbit Hole’s strength and charm.

Rabbit Hole

Supporting characters such as Becca’s irresponsible sister Izzy (Tammy Blanchard) and Becca’s mom, Nat (Dianne Wiest), add to the humour and tension which I always find is there when whole families are around. Izzy’s pregnancy couldn’t come at a worse time for Becca and Nat tries her best to console her grieving daughter but always manages to make things worse. When the Corbett’s attend a counselling group, Howie makes friends with another grieving mother Gaby (Sandra Oh) while Becca breaks away to meet with a teenage boy, Jason (Miles Teller) who shares an idea about there being infinite parallel worlds. Becca comes to find solace in this; that somewhere out there, there’s a version of herself having a good time. Their separate paths are attempts at healing their own pain but they risk their marriage in the process.

The idea of 91 minutes of a grieving couple might not sound appealing to movie-goers, but Rabbit Hole isn’t so much about suffering but more about people getting through it in the best ways they can. It might not be right way for Becca and Howie, but it’s the best they can do, despite advice, support and shoulders to cry on from friends and family.

Performance-wise, Nicole really rolls her sleeves up and dives into the role. Moments of anguish, rage and despair flow as naturally as her laughter and movements, bringing the character to life, even when Becca feels no life. It’s a shame that Aaron has been overlooked for his performance by the Academy, BAFTA and Golden Globes, though he has received nominations from the Independent Spirit Awards and San Diego Film Critics Society Awards for his portrayal of Howie.

Rabbit Hole

Dianne Wiest as Nat also gives a wonderful performance. Nat is nowhere near the perfect mother, but she feels like a mother who desperately loves her children. Like the other characters, we see Nat making mistakes yet we understand the why and the how. In one of the most moving and thoughtful scenes, this conversation takes place:

BECCA: Does it ever go away?

NAT: What.

BECCA: This feeling.

NAT: No. I don’t think it does. Not for me, it hasn’t. And that’s goin’ on 11 years. It changes, though.


NAT: I don’t know. The weight of it, I guess. At some point it becomes bearable. It turns into something you can crawl out from under, and carry around — like a brick in your pocket. And you forget it every once in a while, but then you reach in for whatever reason and there it is: “Oh, right. That.” Which can be awful. But not all the time. Sometimes it’s kinda … not that you like it exactly, but it’s what you have instead of your son, so you don’t wanna let go of it either. So you carry it around. And it doesn’t go away, which is …

BECCA: What.

NAT: Fine … actually.

Overall, Rabbit Hole is a beautiful, tender and true-to-life look at the ways in which we deal with grief and leaves us with the consoling thought that somewhere out there, there’s a happy version of ourselves.

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

You can find his music on Soundcloud .

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