RABBIT HOLE is an earnest but workman-like film about grief, adapted for the screen by playwright David Lindsay-Abaire (INKHEART) and directed in an uncharacteristically conservative manner by John Cameron Mitchell of HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH and SHORTBUS fame. The overall effect is of a sensitive and well-acted TV movie - worth watching but curiously unmemorable.
The movie stars Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart as an affluent, suburban couple grieving for their son who was killed in a car accident eight months before the movie began. Grief tests their marriage. The wife reacts by clearing out her son's possessions, opting out of group, wanting to move house and, perhaps, most disturbingly, by striking up a friendship with her the preternaturally sensitive teen who was driving the car in the accident. The husband seems to be much more open about his grief and rage and feels frustrated by his wife's secretive and volatile behaviour - almost tempted into an affair but with the fortitude to bend toward his wife one last time.
Kidman got the plaudits for her performance - including an Oscar nomination - and she is just fine in her role - particularly good in a scene where she secretly returns to the City hoping to find the life she left behind only to realise it has left HER behind. But her complete shut-down restraint - very well calibrated - makes for a sterile hole at the centre of the film, and I'm not sure the film survives it. This isn't helped by the rather flat, uninteresting work behind the screen from John Cameron Mitchell and his regular DP Frank DeMarco using a RedOne. What saves the film is Aaron Eckhart in what is probably his best performance to date. He manages to combine great sensitivity and humour - and in the key cathartic scene he never trips into hysterical melodrama but keeps it authentic. It's a less showy performance as a result, and perhaps went overlooked for that reason, but it's completely emotionally devastating.
RABBIT HOLE played Toronto 2010 and was released last year in Canada and the USA. It was released earlier this year in Sweden, Russia, Denmark, Ireland, the UK, Greece, Italy, Australia, Singapore, Finland, Serbia, Croatia, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Turkey, Poland, Brazil, Indonesia and Argentina. It is available to rent and own. Nicole Kidman was nominated for Best Actress at the 2011 Oscars but lost to Natalie Portman for BLACK SWAN.