Film Review: Rabbit Hole

Rabbit Hole is a thought-provoking drama that sensitively deals with the subject of grief. It is a well-executed film, accomplished but not astounding.

Becca and Howie struggle to cope with the death of their young son, Danny. Both have different ways of dealing with his death, an issue that causes them to clash. While Howie holds on to his memories, Becca looks for something different…

David Lindsay-Abaire also wrote the screenplay for Rabbit Hole, based on his play. The writing is excellent, dealing thoughtfully with the characters and themes. Rabbit Hole feels like a very authentic portrait of the different ways people deal with grief. These approaches are dealt with in a non-judgemental manner, with Lindsay-Abaire refusing to advocate one way of coping over another. The characters are three-dimensional and utterly believable, which serves to draw the audience in to their story.

Rabbit Hole moves slowly, an aspect which will not appeal to all cinemagoers. Shifts in the narrative are subtle rather than pronounced. The glacial pace, however, is necessary in order for an accurate representation of events. Rabbit Hole is a film about a couple coping with the loss of their son, not a film about the death of a child and the immediate aftermath. The drip exposition of the events of Danny’s death serves well to reaffirm the emphasis on dealing with grief rather than the incident itself.

Camera work is often fluid in Rabbit Hole, nicely contrasting with the prolonged close-up shots of Becca and Howie. Director John Cameron Mitchell allows the scene to breath at these points, allowing the actors to convey their heartache. The art direction works well to create an autumnal look to the film. Rabbit Hole has a rustic quality, aided by the suburban setting and Becca’s propensity for baking. The score is used sparingly; critical moments are often unaccompanied by music. The silence accentuates the sense of reality.

As Becca, Nicole Kidman gives one of her best performances in recent years. She captures the sadness of the character, as well as her uneasy temperament. It is Aaron Eckhart, nonetheless, who really impresses as Howie. Eckhart is entirely convincing as the grieving father, exhibiting a wide range of emotions. Dianne Wiest is also great as Becca’s mother; a character carrying her own burden as well as trying to help her family.

Rabbit Hole is a polished film that deals honestly with a difficult theme. It is a drama that may leave viewers pensive; Rabbit Hole’s effect is subtle rather than spellbinding.