Rabbit Hole

Year: 2010
Production Co: Olympus Pictures
Director: John Cameron Mitchell
Writer: David Lindsay-Abaire
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Dianne Weist, Sandra Oh

It could have been thoroughly miserable grief porn, but the story's not about two parents who lose a child but about how they're coping down the track, and both the script and Kidman and Eckhart as the parents do a great job of portraying people who are still traumatised deep down but are trying to get on with the business of life.

We never get a really clear picture of the incident or the history apart from a single moment where Becca (Kidman) finally has enough of her mother's (Weist) comparing their son's death to the black sheep brother of the family's demise by overdose.

The moment is full of unspoken tension ready to break, but instead of scenes of over-expressive platitudes or clumsy calls of 'why?' or 'no!' to the clouds Mitchell does a fantastic job as Becca and Howie (Eckhart) try to keep their grief and crumbling marriage constrained with an ever-thin veneer of social grace.

Even though their pain is evident in every scene and word, the film isn't without warmth and even humour on occasion. Howie starts to connect with a woman (Oh) from the counselor support group as Becca rails against its ineffectiveness, and Becca herself starts making friends with a young man we learn was the driver that killed her and Howie's son.

It's not the best subject matter to make a movie about and I was reluctant to watch it for a long time, expecting something that would make me want to open my wrists. But Mitchell has established himself as a straight drama director along with the best of them even without the visual flair of Shortbus to add his mark. Kidman and Eckhart do the rest, keeping it natural and never showy.

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