Monday, May 23, 2011

Rabbit Hole (2010)

I finally got around to seeing Rabbit Hole, which just came out on DVD in April.  It stars Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart, who portray a couple that has lost their young son to a tragic accident.    The teaser from Rotten Tomatoes says it "is a vivid, hopeful, honest and unexpectedly witty portrait of a family searching for what remains possible in the most impossible of all situations"  Simple translation: This is a movie about grieving.

The couple deals with their grief in two totally different ways. Becca (Kidman) seems to want to erase everything that reminds her of her son and rarely shows emotion. In one scene her husband Howie (Eckhart) confronts her about this, "You're trying to get rid of him.......You have to stop erasing him. You have to stop it!"  To which she answers "Do you really think that I don't see him every second of every day?.........It feels like maybe I don't feel badly enough for you. Maybe I'm not feeling enough. What do you want from me?"

Howie has several angry outbursts in the movie, which seem to be part of his grieving process. He also strikes up a friendship with a woman from his grief group, played by Sandra Oh.

The grief group has some stereotypic characters, including another couple who has spiritualized the loss of their own child. Becca's confrontation of this made me smile.  The couple shares that the reason their daughter died was because God "needed another Angel"  to which Becca pipes up, "Why didn't He just make one?... I mean He's God after all?!?  Why didn't He just make another Angel?"

Interestingly we learn that Becca's brother died years prior, so Becca's mother Nat(Dianne Wiest) has great potential to be of comfort, if Becca would allow her to be. Finally towards the end, Becca connects with her mom and their exchange is one of my favorite moments of the movie. I love how Nat describes grief.

Becca: Does it ever go away?

Nat: No, I don't think it does. Not for me, it hasn't, and that's goin' on eleven years. It changes, though.

Becca: How?

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- But not all the time. It's kinda...not that you like it exactly, but its' what you have instead of your son, so you don't wanna let go of it either. So you carry it around. And it doesn't go away, which is...."

Becca: What?

Nat: Fine...actually.

Overall, I thought this was a good movie about grief. The characters do heal during the movie, which is always nice to find your characters growing. I also enjoyed the sub context looking at the question of where one finds comfort in grief. This was mentioned and explored outwardly in many ways, from looking to religion, to other relationships, and even to parallel universes.

If you haven't seen it, check it out and do let us know what you think.

Also, here's the trailer if you want to get a feel for the movie visually.

2 Responses to “Rabbit Hole (2010)”

Marty Tousley, CNS-BC, FT, DCC said...
May 26, 2011 at 8:22 AM

I saw The Rabbit Hole shortly after its release, and it is quite powerful. I'm not sure I would recommend it to someone whose grief is fresh, however, since the story involves a couple whose little boy was killed in a tragic accident some eight months earlier, and the parents' grief is palpable and raw throughout the movie. But the film addresses so many aspects of the normal grief process and portrays the parents' reactions with such authenticity that I was amazed at the accuracy of it all, throughout the entire movie. Even the ending was perfect. The acting is superb and the casting is excellent ~ even the real estate agent's and little boy's reactions in the scene about selling the family's home were spot-on! I found myself thinking that there was precious little about normal grief that this movie did not include! I wish everyone who knows someone who is mourning the loss of a loved one would see this movie ~ I think those are the folks who really need to see it (and could learn a lot from it).

David Fisher MD said...
May 28, 2011 at 7:01 PM

Great review.  You touched on the most poignant parts of the movie, especially the 'Grief as a Brick' exchange.  I thought this was an excellent movie.  The acting is outstanding and the story and script are very "real life".  I applaud Nicole Kidman for not just her great performance, but for producing the film.

Other parts that I liked beside what you mentioned above: the movie addresses the strain that the death of a child can place on a marriage (one spouse is tempted toward infidelity, and the effect of the death on their sexual relationship is addressed).  The script deftly includes the teenager who was involved in the accident that killed the child, and though he could have been portrayed as perpetrator, instead he is included as a fellow grief-bearer struggling with his own grieving process.  I was touched by the complex relationship that develops between his character and the parents.  And I agree with Marty- the movie ends perfectly.  It does not try to make it all better and tie things up neatly with a bow, but it ends on a note of hope with a small, simple act that signifies the beginning of re-entry into life after a tragedy.