“Rabbit Hole” Movie Review

1/07/2011 Posted by Admin

“Rabbit Hole”

Movie Review

Directed by John Cameron Mitchell, written by David Linday-Abaire, based on his play, 91 minutes, rated PG-13.

By Christopher Smith

The aftereffects of death are explored in raw detail in John Cameron Mitchell's "Rabbit Hole," a dark movie about a couple coping with loss--and each other--in the wake of their 4-year-old son's sudden death.

Though eight months have passed since their child was run over by a car, Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie (Aaron Eckhart) are nowhere close to coming to terms with it in spite of (or because of) the surface adjustments they've made to their new routines.

Becca gave up her job when her son died and now she takes care of the house. She does laundry. She cleans. She gardens, she cooks and she visits with her mother, Nat (Dianne Wiest, one of the best reasons to see the movie). And she hides from her neighbors as much as possible, preferring to be left alone to complete small, manageable tasks that help to distract her from what she refuses to face.

As for Howie, his routine remains somewhat the same, but like Becca, it's all surface. He goes to the office. He comes home to dinner with his wife. They have meaningless conversations about everything trite and trivial, though nothing substantial. Their sex lives are toast. But at night, when Howie believes Becca is nowhere around, he finds remnants of his son's life in the home movies he keeps on his cell phone.

Knowing they must face their son's loss if they're ever to move forward as a couple, they start attending "The Group," which is comprised of a group of others caught in a seemingly bottomless malaise of mourning. Howie is for it--he knows they can't go on like this and initially tries to make the best of it. But for cynical Becca, whose coldness is enough to fan the tears off the glum faces surrounding her, her frustration with these people is palpable, so much so that she isn't above snapping at them when they start sharing their feelings.

In spite of this ongoing grimness, "Rabbit Hole" isn't without a sense of humor. The film, after all, comes from Mitchell, who directed the beautifully bizarre "Headwig and the Angry Inch." What he understands is that death, as cruel as it can be, isn't without awkwardness or absurdity for those left to pick up the pieces.

For Howie, he finds his reprieve in Gaby (Sandra Oh), another member of the group who for years has been trying to heal from her own loss. Just before one session, each decides to get high on pot, which leads to an inappropriate (but very funny) fall-out since their world now has become a drug-induced joke.

For Becca, who shares a common bond with her mother, Nat, who also lost a son, together they work through their own issues, often laughing because what else is there to do? Nat knows that she will forever grieve her son's death, but with the passing of time, she also knows that the grieving has shifted into something she can deal with.

It's here that Becca starts to move forward, but is it too late? Her marriage is dangerously close to collapsing. For additional support, she turns to the young man (Miles Teller) who ran over her child. Their conversations lead to more healing for Becca, but additional tension at home when Howie learns that, in his eyes, she's "sleeping" with the enemy by befriending the young man.

With so many tricky undercurrents to manage, "Rabbit Hole" could have caved beneath their weight and gone into safe, predictable directions that would have been easier to navigate. But it doesn't. It's smarter and more complex than that. It taps into the human condition and exposes all of its unfortunate nooks and crannies with a satisfying fearlessness. With Kidman and Eckhart both nailing difficult roles, "Rabbit Hole," when it opens nationally, is well worth a look.

Grade: A-

View WeekinRewind.com's video preview of the movie below. What did you think of the film?

  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Technorati
  • Facebook
  • TwitThis
  • MySpace
  • LinkedIn
  • Live
  • Google
  • Reddit
  • Sphinn
  • Propeller
  • Slashdot
  • Netvibes


  1. won said...


    Being a bereaved mother myself, this hits close to home. I see myself in the descriptions you presented of the mother.

    I think I'll wait till it comes out on DVD. For two reasons...one because I too prefer the rote comfortableness of home. And two...I don't want to cry so much out in public, and I'm sure this movie will bring the tears on.