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Rabbit Hole

Cast: Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Dianne Wiest
Director: John Cameron Mitchell

A child becomes an orphan when his parents die. But what about a parent who just lost his child? Rabbit Hole touches on the subject, the unhappiness and the feeling of not knowing what to do next. I think if one is familiar with the subject, or knew people who have experienced the same fate, one would have expected it to be a film filled with emotion, that the outbursts themselves can relay what these people with experiences have felt. Rabbit Hole may have not given its extent in the area, but has provided much more. It's not a film that will emotionally drain a person, but it gives enough to trigger something in you.

Becca and Howie are a married couple who lost their son Danny in a car accident 8 months ago. The film sets immediately to the months after the accident, with the couple still trying to pick up their lives together. They, however, chose to cope with their situation separately. Becca became emotionally closed, and was ignoring everything, trying to go through her life as normally as possible. It came to a point that she stroke a friendship with the teenager that was part of the accident. Howie, on the other hand, was rather vocal about it, and while he keeps his demeanor, he has other means of griefing, particularly whenever he watches a video of his son.

When we lose someone we love, we all have our own manners of grieving. It comes in any form, and it changes our lives. Our ways may include alienating people, or putting on a brave face. Becca and Howie did that. Each of them exemplified different coping mechanisms. There's alienation, substance use, group therapy, denial, anger, and other ways of dealing with their loss. There were people close to them, or people they simply knew who went through what they experienced, recalling years and years of grief. Becca and Howie were both going through the same situation, and they were dealing with it differently. While the film was solely focused on that, it also gave a glimpse at the other side of the situation through the eyes of Jason, played convincingly by Miles Teller. We meet this boy getting dropped off by the school bus, walking to one destination to another. We see him in a car, but he's not the one driving. Through his conversations with Becca, it can be assumed that he used to be a driver, but not any more. He also thinks about that day, and that he truly was apologetic. As the film was not how to overcome the feeling of loss and regret, the Jason arc was not pursued, but he plays a significant role in the film.

Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart gave good performances as the married couple. While everything seems to be peachy on the surface, their real thoughts and feelings emerge at the intimate moments of their day: when they're done with work or simply at home, in their car, moments that do not require them to have other responsibilities but to their selves. They have people who are trying to help them, but they later figure out that coping with their loss has to be done together. The defining moments of the film were not their fights, but rather their breakdowns, particularly Nicole Kidman's. Her sobbing uncontrollably was a defining moment in her character, not only because she was able to grieve well, but because she had opened to the reality that her son was gone, and she has to be strong.

I expected the film to be emotionally draining, to be filled with outbursts and lots of crying. It wasn't, but it triggered empathy towards Howie and Becca. I think it worked in their favor that the film wasn't all crying. It gave the reality that we don't know how they truly feel, even if there are people in the same situation as them. Becca and Howie could just spit word after word, and we won't understand what they're going through. This is what makes their breakdown scenes defining; it opens them to vulnerability, and later on, to take things one at a time together.

The subject may be sensitive to others, but the way it was written treated us to a lighter fare with a heavy story. It wasn't the situation, or the fighting, or the adjusting that became revealing to the film. Rather, it was the vulnerability of the characters, and being able to pick up pieces after. 

Comments

  1. I thought this film was tremendous. Great review!

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    1. Thank you! I was surprised that this was one of Kidman's lesser known projects. The actors and the direction involved were great.

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  2. Heartbreaking story that is made even better by the non-judgmental direction from Mitchell. Wish he'd make more movies, since he's so damn good at them. Good review.

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    1. Thank you! The movie was great, and it brought out a lot without having to use "trigger words/moments" to emphasize the story.

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  3. Fantastic review! Once I feel I'm ready to feel sad and empty inside (merely reading your review nearly did the trick), I'll be seeing this. Looks good and devastating and, honestly, I'd love to see Nicole Kidman look vulnerable for once.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! The topic itself is very sensitive, especially on a first-hand experience. I know people who have experienced a similar kind of loss, and I found the beauty of the film that it did not have overly-dramatized scenes where it's supposed to make you cry, but rather it brought out the loss in a realistic sense of view.

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