This year’s proverbial gut-wrenchingly emotional Oscar contender (see: Revolutionary Road from 2008 and last year’s A Single Man ), Rabbit Hole stars Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart as a married couple still reeling from the death of their four-year-old son.
It’s eight months after his death, and Kidman’s character acts like she’s the only one grieving as she rejects her husband’s sexual advances and scolds her mother (Diane Wiest) for comparing this loss with death of her brother. There’s a really cool shot here that I’ve never seen before — like a trunk shot, but from the inside of a Goodwill collection bin — as Kidman incessantly tries to erase the child’s memory from their lives. And she can’t help but berate the Jesus freaks at group therapy who pass their own loss off as “God needing another angel.”
“If he wanted another angel, why doesn’t he just make one?” she asks as she snarkily snaps her fingers. “He IS God after all.” She begins skipping out on the sessions all together, opting to stalk — and later bond with — the teenage boy who was behind the wheel of the car that killed her son.
Eckhart seems to be there only to console her at first, but we soon learn of his struggles to cope as well — just as he does. His performance is superb, particularly in the way he shows his character fighting off anger and despair while still letting us know they’re there. That’s what men do best, right? We hide our emotions so we can feel like we’re calm and collected. Or at least give that impression. That is, until we can’t hold it anymore and lose all control. Even if we’ve never experienced a loss of this gravity we can easily identify with his character.
Rabbit Hole is much less of a movie than it is an emotional chokehold, wrenching tighter and tighter until finally releasing for a (thankfully) hopeful conclusion. Director John Cameron Mitchell and screenwriter David Lindsay-Abaire, adapting his own stage play for the screen, do more than enough to make the story feel cinematic, even with the limited amount of settings — something recent stage adaptations like Doubt have struggled with.
The film climaxes with a montage that effected me in ways I haven’t felt since seeing the finale of Requiem For A Dream for the first time. That’s the real power of film. Editing. Montage. It separates the medium from other art forms and gives it that added ability to elicit such an emotional response.