Friday, December 31, 2010

Rabbit Hole

Four-star reviews don't need much introduction: Rabbit Hole is really good and you should go see it.

As much as I find it to be an unexpectedly uplifting film, be warned: It can hit close to home. I, thankfully, have not yet had to deal with the sudden and unexpected loss of a family member like this, but I'm pretty sure the woman sitting behind me had. So, fair warning - it's good enough that there could be crying.

Rabbit Hole

* * * * (out of four)
Seen 29 December 2010 at Landmark Kendall Square #2 (first-run)

Rabbit Hole could easily be the most miserable movie a person could imagine; plenty of movies with the same subject matter have been unrelentingly grim. The beauty of this one is that it is about coping with loss, rather than just displaying the suffering. It's not a happy film, but in attempting to get its characters to "bearable", it manages to be excellent.

Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie (Aaron Eckhart) are a nice young couple who used to be a nice young family. Their son Dan died in an accident eight months ago, and their instincts for dealing with it are different. Howie watches a video stored on his phone again and again, while Becca feels oppressed by all the reminders of what she's missing. They go to a support group with other couples like Gaby (Sandra Oh) and Kevin (Stephen Mailer), but Becca can't stand them. Her mother (Dianne Wiest) only makes things worse with her good-intentioned attempts to help. And then Becca's less-responsible sister Izzy (Tammy Blanchard) announces she's pregnant.

Rabbit Hole is a movie of little moments, the best of which allow the people in the audience to empathize, either by calling forth things from their own individual experience or just having the ring of truth, while also guiding them. For instance, in an early scene, when Gaby and Kevin mention that they've been coming to this group for eight years, there's a little flash of horror between Becca and Howie. It's despairing and sad but it also gives us a reassuring baseline for the main characters, that they don't want to become defined by their grief; it's an honest reaction that the audience can hold on to when things get darker later. And, it's a little bit funny. Not disrespectfully so, but just enough to mix with the fear and depression and say that human emotions are complicated, and the not-obvious ones are going to be present and legitimate.

Full review at EFC.

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