Directed by: John Cameron Mitchell
Premise: A couple (Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart) grieves over the loss of their son.
What Works: Rabbit Hole has some great performances by Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart. The film is primarily Kidman’s show as her character is written with the widest emotional range and she gets most of the best lines. Actor Miles Teller is cast as the teen driver who accidentally killed the couple’s son and Teller plays it well, capturing the naiveté of youth as his character tries to grasp what he has done.The performances are assisted by some sharp dialogue writing. Rabbit Hole effectively and subtly reveals character details in both the overt action of the scenes as well and in the underlying subtext. The performers are smart enough to catch onto this and play the subtext in their movements and on their faces and the cinematography and blocking of the action draw attention to the underlying themes of each scene.
What Doesn’t: Rabbit Hole goes through a lot of the motions of grief but does not reveal much about it. The film falls into the same trap as 2008’s Revolutionary Road; just showing characters experiencing misery is not the same as exploring it or offering insights into it. Rabbit Hole’s lead characters—and by proxy the moviemakers—criticize those who wallow in their grief, but because the film’s exploration of grief is rather superficial, it ends up being about as guilty as the characters it criticizes.
Bottom Line: Rabbit Hole is worth a look for its excellent performances. The film does not penetrate its topics but it does at least manage to be an engaging story of loss.
Episode: #324 (January 30, 2011)