Film review: Rabbit Hole

Disclaimer: I was not allowed to publish this review until the film’s release date. Why? Generally this happens because studios don’t like the idea of a bad review hurting the demographic which is almost assured to see it no matter what. In essence, it turns my role into simply another advertisement for the film, or worse, irrelevant altogether. The least I can do is make any potential readers aware of this.

Rabbit Hole
Olympus Pictures, Blossom Films, Odd Lot Entertainment

STARRING Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Dianne Wiest, Sandra Oh
WRITTEN BY David Lindsay-Abaire (adapted from his play)
PRODUCED BY Nicole Kidman
DIRECTED BY John Cameron Mitchell

SHOT BY Frank G. DeMarco
MUSIC BY Anton Sanko

Screened 2010-12-14

Becca & Howie Corbett (Kidman & Eckhart) are upper-middle class suburban New Yorkers who are eight months into heavy grieving for their deceased child. You know what that means – aimless roaming, numbness, lashing out, and prolonged marital tension, most of which is witnessed in the beige and sepia-toned rooms of the Corbett’s rather antiseptic home. The film is about Becca’s grief with Eckhart accompanying and killing time until she chooses to communicate with him again, which is a bit strange considering he has an equal amount of screen time. Becca’s reaction to the pain (which is meant to be viewed as the greatest pain imaginable) is to go into shut-down, low-energy mode and to generally give others hell until she comes around. Grief Group doesn’t do it. Hubby’s no help. Pregnant Sister is awk-ward. Mom (Wiest) is sure nice to have around since she knows the same pain, yet for reasons which I really don’t understand Becca never finds any solace in her advice, never seeks her for comfort. Instead… and this is where it totally lost me… otherwise idle in her blah suburban palace, she noses her way into the affairs of the college-bound young man who killed her son (car accident), a boy who is awfully tuned into his own grief – you might even say he’s the perfect person for Becca to talk to. IN FACT, the smart young artist has actually been penning a colorful graphic novel called Rabbit Hole, the themes of which quite conveniently bear the exact advice Becca needs to finally find her peace. It’s almost as if… nah. Couldn’t be. Oh – and Eckhart has a whole sidequest with fellow Group Griever Sandra Oh, his former dog, and pot indulgence – pretty much the film’s only genuine laugh, easy humor. Eckhart is just so cool looking. I’ve been avidly following him since In the Company of Men, and he’s now acted beside some top talent, he’s arrived. His chiseled, ardently male features reek of strength. Nolan was absolutely right to cast him as a politician – but absolutely wrong in his utilization of Eckhart as a psychopath. That whole thing simply did not work. Um – I digress.

So, why did Nicole champion this project? Because she did champion it. It’s her baby. In 2006 the play Rabbit Hole debuted (though how this worked as a play I don’t want to imagine) and the next year it won a Pulitzer and Cynthia Nixon won a Tony for her work in it. Nicole decided she was going to make this her film, and contacted the author to pen the screenplay. She was the sole producer, utilizing her production company, Blossom, and it was she who chose Eckhart as her running mate. She even dropped out of Woody Allen’s You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger for the opportunity. Everything’s in place, now it’s time – – to grieve. How enthralling. The performances are there, obviously. Shot, as any moneyed independent film would be, on the Red camera, now and then the product is exceedingly gorgeous – when we’re not simply roaming around the damn house. This is by default since we’re using the Red, alas, the cinematography is mass-produced interchangeable former-wedding-photographer pooblah. Functional, sure. HBO-level, you bet. Artistic? I suppose one could make the argument, if one had little interest in film artistry. All in all it’s not the worst film of 2010. I suppose the target audience is comprised of cable-television fans who are feeling raw and would like a reason to cry… and not as much to have a good time. Oh yes – and the score is GOD-FREAKING AWFUL wholly regurgitated delicate sensitive plucky staccato piano/string crap. You know what I’m talking about.

written by David Ashley