(M) Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Sandra Oh, Diane Weist
As the film opens Becca and Howie (Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart) are both dealing with loss in different ways. The trauma of a hit-and-run accident that claimed the life of their son permeates every room of their house.
Howie can’t forget — he constantly watches a video of happier times on his iPod. Becca feels the loss in every room of the house. She decides to give away his toys and clothing and asks Howie if they can sell the property.
Neither of them are addressing the profound grief that each feel, quietly sidestepping the elephant in the room.
When Howie seeks out a group to begin the healing, the brittle Becca can’t be in the room and express her grief publicly. When a couple suggest that “God just wanted another angel and called her (their daughter) home,” Becca replies, “He’s God isn’t he, couldn’t he have just made another angel?”
When her mother later suggests that the church helped her through the grief of the loss of her brother, Becca won’t hear it — the only God she can imagine is a cosmic sadist who rewards his worshippers with more suffering. “No wonder you like him,” she snaps at her mother, regretting her words even as they escape her mouth. “He sounds just like Dad.”
Critics have been divided over Rabbit Hole because there is humour among the darkness. “Grief may be the topic under examination,” one writes, “but humor —incisive, observant and warm — is the tool with which it’s dissected.” Another goes so far as to call the film a “dryly un-sentimental black comedy”.
This reviewer found it to be a look at the details of dealing with loss. There is humour; there is the realisation that somehow nobody really knows how to deal with an individual’s grief. It is how one deals with it that ultimately heals, as Becca’s mother suggests when she seeks advice: “It (grief) never really goes away, you carry it around like a rock in your pocket, every so often you reach in and remember it’s there.”
And it’s in the remembering that healing and hope begins.
The film skirts around the issues of faith and loss. Becca rails against God, Howie finds solace with others who are able to express their faith and loss.
There is a lot to digest in Rabbit Hole, and both Kidman and Eckhart’s performances will be acknowledged come awards time.