Saturday, January 15, 2011

Movie Review - Rabbit Hole

Rabbit Hole - ***1/2

Directed by: John Cameron Mitchell

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Dianne Wiest, Sandra Oh

Review: 'Rabbit Hole' is one movie that is hard to watch. I mean that in a good way. A movie like this is so wrought with emotion and tension that it wears on you and makes it, at points, hard to sit though. A large portion of what makes this work is the great performances from all involved.

'Rabbit Hole' is about two parents coping with the death of their 4-year-old child. It is a fascinating character study. How exactly would one deal with the death of a child. This is not just one coping with losing a child, it's coping with that and trying to find a way to pick up the pieces and move forward. Can you ever look at your partner the same after losing a child? Can you ever have sex again? Can you ever have another child? Is any of it going to make the pain go away? These are the questions that you have to answer when in a situation that our characters are in.

These two have to battle with the idea of keeping the memory of their son alive vs. trying to move on and putting away the constant reminders of their lost child. What makes the performances so great is the realistic way these matters are handled. Even further, is how nuanced each performance is. We all handle grief differently and that difference is made very apparent in this film. Becca (Nicole Kidman) hides all of her sons paintings, gives away all his clothes, and refuses to go to their group sessions where they talk with others who have lost their child. It is too much for her to be constantly reminded of her son every second of every day. If she is supposed to move on, she can't do it while glancing back over her shoulder.

Howie (Aaron Eckhart) handles his grief a little bit differently. He likes to go to group sessions and even goes by himself. He watches a video of his son stored on his phone nightly and misses the dog that his son loved. His only way of dealing with this loss is to know that even though he might move on, he will still always be able to remember.

I don't pretend to even know what it would be like to lose your child. I can only imagine that it would be one of the most horrible experiences you could live through. An event like that would put everything into perspective and nothing else would seem quite as important anymore. Nobody wants to have to deal with something like this but it's human nature to wonder how you would react in this situation. I don't know that I have seen any film that's ever been able to capture an honest human reaction that is completely believable.

The film is aided by not making a movie out of the child's death. A lesser movie would have dramatized the son's death and made it a focal point of the movie. 'Rabbit Hole' chooses to come in 8 months after the death of their child and goes even further to slow let out the details behind the death. Instead of having a scene at the beginning where all the details are explained, they become unraveled slowly throughout the film. It is a bold move but one that pays off as it only helps and adds realism to the film and it's performances.

It's tough at times to be able to sit through this movie as it is so emotional and mentally taxing. However, for those that do sit through it you will be rewarded with a realistic portrayal (realistic as far as I could imagine anyway) of how two ordinary people deal with such an extraordinary circumstance. All in all, it is worth your time.

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