Movie review: Finding life after loss

2011-04-02 10:34

Film: Rabbit Hole (Nu Metro)
Director: John Cameron Mitchell
Featuring: Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Dianne Wiest, Miles Teller and Sandra Oh
Rating: 8/10

John Cameron Mitchell is certainly an edgy director. His previous films, Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Shortbus, both critically acclaimed, were also highly controversial.

Rabbit Hole too is a difficult sell. It’s the gut-wrenching story of two people working their way through the grief process after losing their young son in an accident.

Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by David Lindsay-Abaire, it is not all gloom and doom. Rather, it explores the individuality of the process. For one person, endless group therapy sessions may numb the pain sufficiently. For another, busting up the whole life that existed before is a necessity.

The play, which made its stage debut in 2006, won a number of Tony Awards – one for best actress for Cynthia Nixon as Becca. Nixon is better known as Miranda in Sex and the City.

Lindsay-Abaire adapted the play for the screen and his familiarity with the needs of cinema ensures that this doesn’t look like a filmed version of a stage play.

Nicole Kidman has been widely lauded in the role of Becca and was nominated for an Oscar. It was a well-deserved nomination. She seems to find a deep reservoir of empathetic feeling to draw on to bring Becca and her terrible
loss to life.

As the mother of four children, two still very young and vulnerable, she is able to play the grieving mother authentically. Getting in touch with this character must have been a very difficult experience.

For Becca and Howie (Aaron Eckhart), the roads to some sort of normalcy are very different. Though they are a couple who love each other dearly, they can’t help each other get through the pain.

Howie relives his child’s short life in home movies, while Becca seeks solace in forging a relationship with the teenager involved in the accident that killed her son. It is this relationship that forms the healing centre of Rabbit Hole.

Apart from Kidman’s stand-out performance, Eckhart gives his charact er shade and colour. Howie tries more traditional methods of lashing out and coping with pain, but ultimately this is not a film about lives self-destructing.

Along with a very competent supporting cast, including Dianne Wiest as the mother and Sandra Oh as another bereft parent, Rabbit Hole is about getting through grief and finding a way to live once again.

Though you will need at least one full box of tissues, Rabbit Hole is a life-affirming story that deals in a thought-provoking way with loss and what comes after.

In the end, Mitchell is a good choice as the helmsman. His gift lies in finding the universality of experience in a unique
character’s story.

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