Rabbit Hole is a raw and painful filled domestic drama that was based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by David Lindsay-Abaire. Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart put on great performances playing characters that have flaws and vulnerabilities. The story is one that is found on day-time television daily, but none are nearly as well done as this.
Rabbit Hole is about a young married couple who are trying their best to cope with the fact they had lost their 4-year-old son, Danny, who had chased their dog into the street and was hit by a car. The couple find it difficult to talk about the subject to each other, let alone friends and family. So instead, they avoid bringing that subject up, which we all know is never the best solution but it is the easiest.
Admitting you have a problem is always the first step, this is something Becca (Nicole Kidman) does not understand. When she and her husband Howie (Aaron Eckhart) go to a support group for parents that have lost their child, it becomes apparent she is ignorant about the situation. She has this sort of passive aggressive attitude about losing her child but eventually she lashes out at a couple who claims God took their child because He needed another angel. Her argument, which is valid but obviously highly inappropriate, is why did He not just make another angel if He needed one?
Going to the support group was only one way they attempted to cope with situation. Howie brings up the fact they have not had sex for eight months now and maybe a new baby is what they need. Becca does not go for that idea but does realize something drastic needs to change.
Becca seems to avoid eating with others frequently, this may be due to the fact she knows the subject will eventually come up about Danny. At the very beginning of the film, a neighbor asks if she wanted to come over for dinner, to which she pretends she already had dinner plans. In a scene shortly later, she rejects her own mom’s offering of cake after her sister refused her offer of Danny’s clothes for her newborn.
As a school bus passes Becca one morning, she gets a glimpse of a boy who we can assume she thinks is her kid. Even red-lights do not stop her in following the bus as she eagerly wants to get a better look. He eventually gets off the bus and enters his home, but that is not the last time she follows that bus. The next time the boy gets off the bus he is off to return a book to the library. She not only follows him into the library but even checks out the same book he returned. The book was appropriately titled, “Parallel Universes” which is both ironic and fitting. Is she just latching one to someone who represents her lost child?
One of the best scenes of the film comes in at about the half-way point, when the two finally explode. It is an incredibly emotional and powerful scene where the stop holding in all the things that have been bothering them. They talk about things that they have avoided to speak about in the first place, mostly pointing fingers on the cause of their child’s death.
The result of that fight puts in perspective how differently the two deal with the loss. Howie is trying to hold on to the memories of Danny. He relishes old videos he took of him and keeps his car-seat in his car. On the other side, Becca is trying to get rid of the things that remind her of Danny. She dreads seeing his fingerprints on the glass door or school paintings that were done by him up on the fridge.
What they do have in common is they both wrongfully take the blame out on other people. They do this both physically and vocally. The scenes these take place are done well enough to evoke emotion as you start to feel for them.You start finding yourself rooting for these characters as they expose themselves with their raw emotional outbursts.
Another thing they share in common is each of them has their own secrets. Howie smokes pot with a lady from the support group and Becca is spending time with the boy she follows from school. Both end up finding out about each other’s secrets and realize it was yet another way of them dealing with the pain.
They both tried so hard to change their lives in hopes that the pain would just go away. They found out that does not work. The moral of the story is that it does not go away, you will carry the memory around. It is something that you just need to accept and try to move on with in life.
Kidman and Eckhart do nothing short of spectacular work here. The interactions between them seem as natural as they would from a young married couple in their situation. Where they excel most at are the most difficult parts, subtle details. The way Kidman’s character seems so passive before she snaps slightly. Her performance led to a well-deserved Oscar nomination for Best Actress as well as a Golden Globe nomination.
For me, the best part about Rabbit Hole is how it showed each of the characters coping differently yet at the same time how similar their behaviors were became. Not only that, but showing the characters putting on their brave face but then also exposed with their guard down was fantastically done. Because the general story is not at all interesting, Rabbit Hole is surprisingly better than you might expect.