Rabbit Hole is an understated and well-written drama that is centered around the ordinary. Ordinary life troubled by an event. It is the story of a family coping with a tragedy.
Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart are a happily married couple. At least that’s the case until their four year old son dies. The movie is not about the son. Most mentions of the son do not come until later in the movie (how he died, his name…). This is the story of this man and woman coping – or lack thereof – with the loss of their only child.
In my head, the plot is cliche. Parents lose child, etc. But what makes this very credible is how convincingly Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart pull off the grieving parents. Each one of them portrays their coping mechanims so perfectly that you’d think they really lost a child. Some say they plot is undercooked. While you can easily see it that way, I don’t think this is what the movie promises to begin with; the promise being the “unusual” that we have come to expect from movies. This movie is rather the usual and how this usual can be made into a cinematic picture.
The movie is this slow progression of everyday life that is so ordinary that at some points, it takes your breath away. There is one particular scene involving a fight between Kidman and Eckhart that is very raw, credible, real.
There are many actors and actresses that make this movie what it is. Aaron Eckhart holds his own with his multi-layered character. But the movie’s centerpiece is Nicole Kidman, up for an Oscar for her role.
She is so astonishing in this movie that it’s very hard to think this is the actress everyone thought was past her prime. She shines as the woman trying to excise her grief, be it with her interactions with the support group or her mother… It’s hard not to applaud her fragile ruthlessness. And that’s precisely what she is: hell-bent not to feel what she’s feeling that she sets off on the most peculiar of paths: getting to know the cause of her son’s death.
This movie is based on a Pulitzer-winning play also titled Rabbit Hole. While I haven’t seen the play, I think it would have been a really interesting event to attend.
And in case you’re wondering why a movie about grieving parents is titled after an Alice in Wonderland term? Well, the way I see it: they are like Alice, wondering a world that feels so strange to them after their son disappeared from it… into a rabbit hole.