Rabbit Hole (12A)
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Time Out says
Tue Feb 1 2011Grief is a difficult emotion to portray on film: the result will almost always end up being either shamelessly manipulative or coldly impenetrable. Writer David Lindsay-Abaire, adapting his own Tony-winning stage play, and director John Cameron Mitchell (‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’, ‘Shortbus’), make a bold stab at something midway between the two with ‘Rabbit Hole’, a film which refuses to bow to sentiment while allowing us insight into the arduous emotional journeys of its characters. That they don’t quite succeed is disappointing but maybe inevitable, and it’s certainly not due to a lack of ambition on the part of Mitchell or his impressive cast.
Making the most of her inherent, imposing frostiness, Nicole Kidman is a blank page as Becca, a suburban soccer mom whose beloved four-year-old son has recently died in a car accident, leaving her utterly disconnected from the world, particularly husband Howie (Aaron Eckhart). While Becca imprisons herself in icy solitude, Howie tries to find a way out of his grief through counselling sessions, hard work, soft drugs and a fleeting flirtation with the ever-watchable Sandra Oh. But his life can’t return to anything approaching normality until Becca finds the strength to open up.
The problem with ‘Rabbit Hole’ is that it plays at one unrelentingly gloomy frequency: occasional moments of humour or tension are simply unable to puncture the overriding sense of oppressive sadness. Our feelings towards Becca and Howie are constantly challenged and upended, but however much we understand them, we never come to like them. This is almost certainly as Mitchell intended, but it does make for a muted, unsatisfying experience.
Author: Tom Huddleston