Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Rabbit Hole

MPAA (PG-13) CNS/USCCB () Rober Ebert (3 1/2 stars) Fr. Dennis (3 stars)

IMDb listing -
CNS/USCCB Review -
Roger Ebert's review -

I do believe that movies about death and dying need to be taken at a distance. Those immediately effected by tragedy need both respectful presence and space for them to slowly regain their bearings. However, movies such as The Rabbit Hole can be good for those a few steps away from those immediately grieving the tragic loss of a loved one. In the case of The Rabbit Hole, the couple in question is grieving the sudden loss of their small child. He child had run into the street after their dog and was hit by car driven by a teenager who didn’t see the child coming.

Using a both a family and a support group setting, the movie quite respectfully portrays a wide array of possible initial responses and conflicts that can occur with the sudden loss of a small child. Some will lean on their faith, while others will go the other direction and blame God for some time. Some will want to start cleaning out the house of the toys, clothes and other reminders. Others will want to keep _everything the same_ for a while. Some will come to yearn for lost intimacy from their spouse, others will simply not be ready for some time.

Anyone who has gone through anything like a loss like this will understand, but please _don’t_ try to push this movie on someone who has recently lost a loved one. The Rabbit Hole like most other movies of this genre is more for the people a few steps away from the tragedy to help them better understand the thoughts, feelings and conflicts occurring within those closer to the tragedy.

The screenplay for The Rabbit Hole was written by David Lindsay-Abaire who also wrote the stage play by the same name. The movie is directed by John Cameron Mitchell. The grieving couple is played by Nicole Kidman (Becca) and Aaron Eckhart (Howie). Strong primary supporting roles are played by Dianne Wiest (as Becca’s mom), Tammy Blanchard (as Becca’s sister) as well as Sandra Oh (as a leader of the grief support group that Becca and Howie attend), Miles Teller (as Jason, the teen who accidently killed Danny, Becca and Howie’s child), as well as others playing lesser roles of various friends and family.

As noted above, The Rabbit Hole was originally written for as a stage play. Thus while the primary roles were certainly played excellently by Kidman, Eckhart, Wiest, Blanchard and Oh, the script and direction are probably the most important here. There is deserved talk of Kidman being nominated by the Academy for Best Actress for her role. The other actors as well as director did a good job, but probably won’t receive much immediate recognition for their work here as I don't believe the film was able to completely shed its "stage feel." Still the fact that the movie was made will probably guarantee that this stage play will circulate throughout the English speaking world (and in translation perhaps beyond) for some time to come. It's a good and powerful story.

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