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Warning you about crappy movies since 2008.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Rabbit Hole

In Rabbit Hole, a couple grieving the death of their young son go crazy with grief -- each in his or her own way. Neither can understand the other.

Nicole Kidman's Becca would rather forget and move on -- or so it seems to her husband, Howie (Aaron Eckhart). She balks at going to their group therapy sessions, belittles the other grieving parents and snaps at her well-meaning mother (Diane Wiest in an Oscar-caliber supporting performance) and ne'er-do-well sister (Tammy Blanchard). She removes evidence of their son's life -- taking down his drawings from the fridge and giving away his little clothes.

Howie prefers sharing his feelings with the other bereaved parents in group and looking, again and again, at  cell phone videos of their son, Charlie. He can only heal through remembering; Becca would rather forget.

Each maintains a secret life the other knows nothing about. Howie is growing close to a bereaved mother (Sandra Oh) from group. Becca is stalking the teenaged boy who accidentally killed their son.

David Lindsay-Abaire successfully adapted his own script (from the Broadway play) into the screenplay. Stage-to-film adaptations can suffer from being too "talky," but not here. There are sufficient silences and close-ups of actors (mostly Kidman) sobbing or staring blankly.

Lindsay-Abaire's most brilliant words aren't spoken by either of the leads. Wiest gets the most poignant lines in her scene (with Kidman) that brought on the sobs in the theater where this critic saw the film with other viewers/mourners.

Director John Cameron Mitchell surprised this critic with his restraint and muted palette. That's because Mitchell also directed the raucous, transgender musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch and the unforgettable, as-close-to-porn-as-mainstream-cinema gets Shortbus. (I recommend both.)

Kidman's wardrobe and the colors of her house match her mood and the mood of the film. Everything's in shades of gray and khaki -- drab, fading. Watching people come undone isn't easy. But, this film is worthwhile -- especially for the strong performances by all involved. See it.

                                                     Rabbit Hole

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