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Rabbit Hole [Blu-ray]
This is the extraordinary story of Becca and Howie. Eight months ago, they had a picture-perfect life with their young son. Now, they are posing as normal in the wake of an enormous loss; blindly looking for footing in a sea of new emotions. This is the remarkably moving journey of a couple finding their way back to love.
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Top Customer Reviews
This is an extremely somber, realistic, and heartbreaking movie. The characters are desperately hurting but carry on with stoic faces and muted voices. "I don't know," is the most-spoken line and it reflects Becca and Howie's mind-numbing confusion and helplessness. The story observes that are no rules to grief and recovery, no magic words to heal the unhealable.
The best performances are given by newcomer Miles Teller as the teen who accidentally killed the little boy and the always-memorable Dianne Wiest as Becca's mother. They are both utterly believable and never look like they're 'acting.' Kidman and Eckhart are also good.
Those who are grieving may love or hate this movie, but will find it honestly done, a bit like picking at a scab until it bleeds. Recommended those looking for a quiet, thoughtful, character-driven film.
Directed by John Cameron Mitchell
Starring Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart and Dianne Wiest
Lionsgate Films | 2010 | 91 min | Rated PG-13 | Released Apr 19, 2011
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Video resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
Single 50GB Blu-ray Disc
The Film 4.5/5
Here's a film which made just $2.2 million at the box office, but Nicole Kidman received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Are you one of the few who bothered to go and see it? If not, is it worth checking out on Blu-ray?
The subject matter is the likely reason for the film being largely ignored. The title doesn't give away much either. This is not another live action version of Alice in Wonderland. Rabbit Hole is about one of the worst things that could happen to parents; it deals with the loss of a child. That doesn't sound like a fun watch, does it?
The film completely surprised me and I thought it was superbly done.
We aren't told at the outset that Becca (Kidman) and Howie (Eckhart) have suffered a loss. The writing respects the audience and lets us observe their actions. Becca turns down a dinner invitation from a neighbor and doesn't seem too happy when she discovers her sister is pregnant. Howie views a video of a child on his phone and we soon find out that their 4-year-old boy died eight months previously.
Becca is reminded of her loss everywhere she looks. Some of Danny's pictures are still on the fridge; his room looks like it hasn't been touched and she can see his fingerprints around the house.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In short, "Rabbit Hole" is a survivor's story. Set eight months after a tragic accident that claimed the life of their son, the film introduces us to Kidman and Eckhart as the coping parents. Still reeling, and remaining somewhat isolated, they exist on a day to day basis. Each, in their own way, is ready to move on--but they just need the catalyst to do so. Neither, however, can truly fulfill the needs of their partner. While understanding the nature of the accident, each still battles with their personal guilt in what happened and it has put an undeniable strain on their marriage. Kidman forges an uneasy relationship with the teenager who actually ran over their son, while Eckhart has a tentative flirtation and easy camaraderie with another member of a grief counseling support group. They are seeking an outlet that they can't or won't get from one another.
"Rabbit Hole" has painfully vivid and impassioned segments. And yet, its truth lies in all the quiet moments in the search for meaning, understanding, and connection. The picture is incredibly well-balanced and is every bit as much about life as it is about death. There's wisdom, wonderment, and even humor in this delicate and precise screenplay. Nicole Kidman is absolutely superb and every emotion can be seen behind her eyes. Eckhart (generally underrated in my opinion) matches her intensity more outwardly, but no less effectively. Great support is provided by the supporting cast--Dianne Wiest, in particular, as Kidman's mother has a kooky dignity. But Sandra Oh (from the support group), Tammy Blanchard (Kidman's sister) and Miles Teller (the guilty teenager) all provide stellar moments.
"Rabbit Hole" is not above asking the difficult questions and making Kidman and Eckhart unique in the pursuit of their own truths. The screenplay never asks us to love this couple--only to understand them. Presenting them, flaws and all, is what makes "Rabbit Hole" such a compassionate piece--one in which it's easy to identify with their pain, conflicts, guilt and resiliency. I loved the simplicity, earnestness, and even the unexpected humor in this film. Great truthful words brought out by a top notch cast--"Rabbit Hole" is a terrific film. KGHarris, 1/11.
The film progresses from one intense deeply moving scene to another, but two stood out for me: (1) Howie and Becca attend the support group and are listening to one grieving father explain that God took his child because he needed another angel. Becca responds that she doesn't understand. Since he is God, why couldn't he just make another angel without bothering with the man's child. (2) Becca asks her mother (Dianne Wiest) does one ever get over the death of a child. (Becca's brother, a drug addict, has died as a fairly young man and is the cause of much conflict between her mother and her when her mother compares the two deaths.) Her mother responds that one never gets over the death of a child, but that the pain becomes different and something one can bear.
Both Eckhart and Kidman give superlative performances as do the secondary characters as well. While the film is sad beyond measure, in a strange way it is comforting. Death and loss are universal, and most of us, if we live very long, will come eventually face to face with the loss of someone we love. You leave the theatre feeling that you have seen a movie that makes an honest statement about these sometimes awful, unspeakable situations we as humans find ourselves in.
Becca (Kidman) and Howie (Eckhart) Corbett are a married couple in pain due to the loss of their only child, Danny, who died eight months ago when he ran out into the street and got hit by a car. They're attempting to cope but not doing very well at it, and in fact their attempts to cope are driving them apart. Becca's way of coping is in trying to escape from her grief and from the memories, avoiding anything that reminds her of Danny, while Howie clings to his grief and to everything that does remind him of Danny. And if these strains were not enough, there are the additional strains of dealing with family and friends. Becca's mother, Nat (Wiest), trying to be helpful by sharing her own experience of loss of a son ends up alienating Becca who deeply resents the comparison. Becca's sister Izzy (Tammy Blanchard), who's rather immature and involved with a married man, reveals that she's pregnant, provoking more resentment from Becca. And Becca's best friend is avoiding her, simply because she has no idea what to say and Becca resents this and refuses to reach out.
Even when trying to work through their loss by attending a support group, Becca and Howie's difference still pull them apart. Becca can't stand the group and gets to the point where she lashes out at another couple's attempting to find solace in religion, while Howie feels that sharing the grief makes it better. A foreshadowing of the dangers of their differences is in another couple in the group, Kevin (Stephen Mailer) and Gabby (Sandra Oh), who've been coming to the group for eight years but who end up splitting up because Kevin wants to move on and Gaby, like Howie, can't let go.
One particularly interesting development in the film comes when Becca sees a high school student on a bus and ends up following the bus to see where he gets off. Why? Does he bear some resemblance to her son, does she see in him the young man he might have grown up to be? But as the film progresses, we learn that the student, Jason (Miles Teller) was the driver of the car that hit her son when he ran into the street. Becca ends up meeting with him and talking in the park, looking for what even she doesn't seem to know. But it ultimately leads her to a cathartic moment when she sees him going to his senior prom and breaks down in tears in her car, finally giving in to, and coming to terms with, her grief.
And Howie too comes to his cathartic moments, though more in stages. One blackly comic one is when he and Gaby (after her husband has left her) get stoned in her car before going in to the support group and end up giggling hysterically when another member of the group is trying to share. Another heart-breaking one comes when Becca and Howie put the house up for sale and Howie makes the ghastly mistake of trying to show a young couple the house, including his son's room, where he ends up having to tell them what happened to his son, immediately ruining any chance of their buying the house. But the final one comes where Howie is on the edge of beginning an affair with Gaby, but finds that, no matter what, he cannot bring himself to give up on Becca.
The performances by the actors are all excellent, but two in particular stand out. Nicole Kidman and Dianne Wiest both richly deserve Oscar nominations for their performances, showing how hard it is to deal with that kind of loss while at the same time showing how it is possible (though the film never makes it easy or simplistic) to find a way, and that there is no one-way-fits-all solution; that each individual has to find what works for them and that you have to accept that others have to find their own way. One of the best scenes, where Wiest truly shines, is where Becca and Nat finally make a connection on shared loss:
Becca: "Does it ever go away? "
Nat: "No, I don't think it does. Not for me, it hasn't - has gone on for eleven years. But it changes though."
Nat: "I don't know... the weight of it, I guess. At some point, it becomes bearable. It turns into something that you can crawl out from under and... carry around like a brick in your pocket. And you... you even forget it, for a while. But then you reach in for whatever reason and - there it is. Oh right, that. Which could be awful - not all the time. It's kinda..."
Nat: "not that you'd like it exactly, but it's what you've got instead of your son. So, you carry it around. And uh... it doesn't go away. Which is..."
Becca: "Which is what?"
Nat: "Fine, actually."
A hard film to watch at times, but very much a film worth seeing, both for the ways in which it deals with the stresses such a loss inflicts, and for the stand-out cast and fine performances. Highly recommended.
I find the reviews of this film predictable. There are those who recognize the authenticity of it and those who don't, just as there are those who understand grief and those who don't, simply because they haven't experienced it for themselves. As one who has experienced it - grief - I can only say that the portrayal of the characters in this film is remarkably accurate. Some reviewers judge the responses of the characters, others criticize the film for being too "sentimental". How can anyone be too sentimental about the death of a child? When you have walked this road, you will be surprised. You will not understand the reactions of your closest friends, or even your own. As with Becca and her mother, my mother and I both lost 18 rear old daughters. I didn't really understand my Mother's grief until I lost my own daughter. Recently we met to record my sister's story for StoryCorps, and on the way to the interview, we talked about how we both have come to the realization that we must give ourselves permission to do whatever we need to do in order to survive - even if those closest to us do not understand, even if we can't understand or articulate our motivations ourselves.
Some people do get stuck in grief. Some try to numb their pain with drugs or alcohol or sexual indulgence. Some withdraw and isolate themselves. Some look to find help in the company of those who have walked the road before them. Some surround themselves with mementos of their lost loved one's life, and some need to rid themselves of the unbearable reminders of what they have lost. Some couples are driven apart. Some become closer. Some embrace the comfort to be found in religious faith, others blame God. There is no way to predict how this experience will affect and reorder one's life and relationships. It is an emotional tsunami. And it is totally inappropriate and cruel to demand that anyone conform to anyone else's expectation or timeline.
I know that this isn't a very articulate review of the film. As a grieving father, I simply want to affirm that David Lindsay-Abaire's portrayal of how the death of a child can affect the lives of his or her parents is authentic and faithful to the real experience. It doesn't exhaust the gamut of possible reactions, but it does touch on the big issues and difficulties that grieving parents deal with. I don't think he is saying this is how it should be, but, rather, that this is just how it is. The film is not miserable and hopeless. But it honest enough not to offer cheap and unrealistic prescriptions. It forces us to wonder at the resilience of the human spirit and the power of love to persist in the face of seemingly overwhelming devastation. Don't judge the characters. Watch and learn. Have a heart.
From the outset, one must recognize that writing a film about a couples' grief after their four year old is hit by a car and killed, is quite difficult. This is what 'Rabbit Hole', originally a stage play by David Lindsay-Abaire, attempts to do. It's difficult precisely because there is no visible antagonist which an audience can identify with. Rather, the antagonist is abstract--you could even describe it as a 'force' which the grieving parents must fight against. A force, which threatens to consume the protagonists--not in their grief, but in an overwhelming anger toward one another.
Both Nicole Kidman's character 'Becca' and her husband 'Howie' (Aaron Eckhart) agree in theory that eight months after the accident, they both must 'move on'. But it's Becca who recognizes that Howie is still too angry about what happened and is unable to grieve. That's why she refuses to participate in support-group meetings, which she regards as a form of denial--the couples who participate in the groups, are merely going through the motions and are not in touch with their true feelings. Becca goes further and insists that she and Howie give up their dream house in the suburbs--that way Howie will not be able to obsess over their lost child if he's not in proximity to all those objects that remind him of their shattering loss. But Howie cannot give up those objects--at the film's midpoint, the relationship between the couple is severely tested after Becca accidentally erases a short video of their deceased son on Howie's cell phone. We can see that Howie's anger is driving Becca away from him and she resorts to doing things for herself that may bring an end to her inner turmoil (Becca, who truly wants to move on, finds Howie's anger is causing her to become angry too!).
So Becca decides to test herself by approaching the 'inmost cave' of her greatest fear. That would be of course having to meet up with Jason, the teenage boy, who was driving the car that killed their son. Becca tests herself to see whether she will be consumed by her own irrational anger (after all, the boy was not actually responsible at all for the accident). As it turns out, Becca bonds with the boy, and their relationship connotes that she has moved further along than Howie, on the complex spectrum of mourning and grief. Jason's imaginative Rabbit Hole comic book, a tale of a parallel universe where this tragedy hasn't happened, brings great comfort to Becca. In a powerful scene, she's also now able to weep, as she sits in her car and watches Jason drive off with friends (in slow motion), after his high school graduation.
Rabbit Hole's subplots, whether it be Becca's relationship with her mother (who also suffered a loss of a child), Becca's jealousy toward her sister now pregnant and Howie's flirtation with the now separated Gaby from the support group, only seem to be distractions in comparison with the principal dramatic moment of the film--the confrontation between Howie and Jason. How a grown man can yell at a practically defenseless teenager underscores the horrific effect the accident had on Howie's psyche. Fortunately, the blowup is cathartic, and although Howie is not willing to meet with Jason and apologize, he asks Becca to act as an intermediary--she will go to the boy and reassure him that Howie's crazy outburst was a temporary aberration and he really didn't mean what he said.
So 'Rabbit Hole' must be admired for keeping one's interest despite the lack of a tangible, visible antagonist. Nonetheless, I urge everyone to read A.O. Scott's excellent review of 'Rabbit Hole' in the New York Times who recognizes that Becca and Howie are not "grounded in any recognizable social world". Rabbit Hole is a story of obsession (in this case, a working out of grief). Since they are so obsessed (and we as the audience are made to focus so much on this obsession), we find out little about the details of the characters' lives outside this focused conflict. Hence the portraits of the principal characters should be viewed as somewhat limited.
Despite the characters' limitations, one cannot ignore the excellent performances of Ms. Kidman and Mr. Eckhardt. In the end, the performers leave us on a note of hope--the simple act of holding hands suggests that Howie is now ready to put his anger behind and move forward with Becca, toward a lasting recovery.