‘Rabbit Hole’ - Brilliant, restrained take on coping with loss (IANS Film Review)

February 19th, 2011 - 5:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Nicole Kidman By Satyen K. Bordoloi
Film: “Rabbit Hole”; Director: John Cameron Mitchell; Cast: Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Dianne Wiest, Miles Teller, Tammy Blanchard; Rating: ****One of the most difficult things in life is to come to terms with the loss of someone very close. And the loss of a young child is especially difficult. To articulate the same visually requires great skills from a director and the actors. “Rabbit Hole” covers no new grounds in terms of story, but soars in this articulation of a quite, internal bereavement.

It has been eight months since Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie (Aaron Eckhart) have lost their four-year-old son Danny in a freak car accident. Though things seem normal on the surface, neither of them has come to terms with it. While Becca retreats into a shell and refuses to socialize or talk normally to anyone, Howie looks at videos of his son to come to terms with his grief.

Becca gets edgy with her pregnant sister Izzy (Tammy Blanchard) and mother Nat (Dianne Wiest), both of whom, despite their attempts, cannot reach her. Nat’s comparison with the loss of her own son only infuriates Becca further. Despite her edgy and nasty behaviour with everyone, the only one with whom she has a normal conversation is Jason, who had caused the accident that killed her son.

The brilliance of this otherwise cliched story is in its quiet moments and restrained performances from each one of its actors. Nicole Kidman excels in capturing the gnawing pain inside through her calm, but intense performance. An Oscar nomination for her is perfect.

Aaron Eckhart also outperforms himself as the husband trying to come to terms with both - the loss of a son and a wife unwilling to open up or begin something new.

“Rabbit Hole”, based on a Pulitzer Prize winning play by David Lindsay Abaire who has also written the screenplay, takes a sincere peek into the void that people find themselves in trying to cope with a magnanimous loss. And the message of the film, as Becca finds out, is that there may not be light at the end of the tunnel, but there’s flicker because though the pain may not go away, it can be lived.

Howie on the other hand discovers that something new has to begin to be able to live with the pain. Thus, there is no concrete resolution in the end, but these small rays of hope at the end of the rabbit hole make this honest film that much more appealing.

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