Secondhand Serenade would call this the feel good movie of the year.
This is a very strange yet welcoming departure for director John Cameron Mitchell. Rabbit Hole has been getting some criticism for it's story being unoriginal. Sure, the concept of Rabbit Hole has been done to death in other melodramatic movies in the 80's but what sets this apart from the rest and why I placed it in my Top 25 Films of 2010 is because Rabbit Hole is one acting powerhouse of a film lead by Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart.
So Rabbit Hole is about Becca and Howie, a couple in a turbulent moment of their marriage as they deal with loss, guilt, grief and each other when their 10 year old son was accidentally killed in a car accident. Their relationship begin to shatter as they begin doing different things to cope with the loss. Howie begins a close friendship with a woman from their support group and Becca begins seeing Jason, the teenager who ran over her son. Everything later is family drama goodness.
This is a really well written movie. Rabbit Hole was formerly a play on Broadway being adapted by the same writer to the big screen. The emotional drama intentionally hammed up for the stage blasts through, almost traumatizing to watch at times. And I loved how it is all very real. The fights and drama in the movie all stem from the most stupid, unrelated events yet sort of reminds me of how most of my fights with family members start. The build ups are fantastic and the conclusions are desolate and heartbreaking.
And this wouldn't have worked without the actors. There is just this electrifying chemistry between Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart. This was certainly a Nicole Kidman tour de force. It's little roles like these that remind me that beneath the glamor, there is a reason why Nicole Kidman is regarded as one of the best actresses working today. Her portrayal was difficult yet inspirational to watch as her character's emotional trauma begin to crack through her facade of normalcy with painful yet cathartic consequences.
As a producer, Kidman did a great job at hand picking Aaron Eckhart to play her husband. Unlike Kidman's character, Eckhart wears his pain on his sleeve, unashamed of baring his wounded humanity. It's a rare pleasure to see Eckhart do a dramatic role every now and then because when he's in the zone, he's bloody marvelous.
The film does inject some much needed comic relief with Dianne Wiest who provides a lot of warmth and wisdom as Becca's mother, but doesn't really get a defining moment. And also Sandra Oh and Tammy Blanchard who I should really commend for making the most out of throw away characters to help advance the already paper thin shield of emotional baggage of Kidman and Eckhart's performance.
Ultimately what gives this film its power is that Mitchell's focus is always fiercely rooted in the reality of the situation, side-stepping the potential sentimentality of the subject matter, choosing to highlight the sorrow of Becca, Howie and Jason that strike quite a visceral chord. The scenes on the bench between Kidman and Teller contain moments of such purity as to be heartbreaking - and to me, the final montage is one of the most sublime and emotionally resonant endings I've seen in awhile.
Rabbit Hole isn't to be missed. It's a fascinating, deep, and moving film that will knock you on your feet. Kidman is terrific, but not without Eckhart, Wiest and Teller. At a nice, short running-time, Rabbit Hole will have an impact on your day