Contributed by Yong Yung Shin
The death of a child is not one of Hollywood’s pet topics especially as a standalone subject matter, for obvious reasons—it’s far too easy for the movie to veer into melodrama, and leaves little room for that feel-good factor, among others.
But Rabbit Hole, which tells of a couple’s attempt to recover from the sudden and devastating loss of their only child, gets off the right foot with excellent source material, being an adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name by David Lindsay-Abaire.
Following her admission of using and then weaning herself off Botox earlier this year, Kidman delivers a stirring performance as the grieving mother Becca Corbett—she wears a few more wrinkles on her face but there’s no diminishing that cool demeanor, which plays to her benefit as her character hides a storm of emotions underneath a seemingly back-to-normal existence in the aftermath of her son’s death.
Her distress translates into angst-ridden exchanges with her husband, Howie (Aaron Eckhart in a fine performance), to whom she isn’t sure how to relate anymore. At the same time, she secretly reaches out to the teenager who was involved in the accident that took her son’s life. The strained relationships with her mother (Dianne Wiest), who herself lost a son to heroin addiction, and her irresponsible but pregnant sister Izzy (Tammie Blanchard) offers a rich backdrop for a vortex of guilt, suspicion, longing and solace to play out, drawing us into the family’s fragile yet intermittently hopeful state of affairs.
The simplicity of Rabbit Hole is perhaps the film’s greatest strength. Dialogue that would have been entirely commonplace in real life and the absence of any major arcs in the plot, for instance, all the more lends an uneasy familiarity to the Corbetts’ struggles, and as a result offers a vivid and heartfelt understanding into how we cope with the subject of death.