“You’re trying to rope me into having sex.”
“I am not, I wasn’t roping you into sex.”
“Al Green isn’t roping?”
The above exchange kinda embodies the peculiar, distinctive feel of “Rabbit Hole”, an adaptation of the David Lindsay-Abaire play about a grieving couple who, 8 months after their young son died in an accident, is still feeling the aftershocks. Amongst other things, the wife, Becca (Nicole Kidman), hasn’t been able to make love since, which of course has been a bit hard for her husband Howie (Aaron Eckhart), even though he’s being patient and understanding… Still, he’s trying to reignite their relationship as well as he can, which isn’t easy considering how antsy Becca still is. Drama, tension, unexpected humor… Characters who you feel empathy for, but who can frustrate you at the same time… It’s messy, harsh, all too human stuff, and this is what makes “Rabbit Hole” such a compelling watch.
As directed by John Cameron Mitchell, in a style much less outrageous than in his previous “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and “Shortbus”, “Rabbit Hole” is full of sentiment without being sentimental, it’s not afraid to make its characters seem unsympathetic. A lesser film would make the mother-who-lost-a-child protagonist into a victim who’s constantly crying or a saint who bravely keeps her head up in spite of it all, but here, Becca is just pissed off. At God. At her husband. At her sister (Tammy Blanchard), at her mother (Dianne Wiest), at random people she runs into… At herself. But oddly enough, not at the teenager (Miles Teller) who was driving the car that hit her boy, a young man whom she feels she has to spend some time with, because… Just because.
Against the subtle storytelling, the generally hushed tone, the soft colors of the cinematography, the smooth flow of the editing and the delicate score, the sharp angles and rough edges of Nicole Kidman’s performance appear all the more vividly. Aaron Eckhart also delivers a powerful, slow-burn performance, and the rest of the cast (which also features the great Sandra Oh in a key supporting part) is very solid as well. “Rabbit Hole” is not the most dazzling, spectacular of pictures, but in a series of small moments and little touches, it gets to you, it really does.