Based upon the 2007 play by David Lindsay-Abaire who also provided the screenplay for this translation to the big screen, Rabbit Hole is a one of a kind powerful dramatic piece that owes it to both Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart to play the central characters of Becca and Howie as the married couple coming to grips with the death of their young son. Directed by John Cameron Mitchell, this snapshot of the couple's life is an examination of how people deal with immense grief, and thankfully isn't plodding on melodrama, but reliant on strong scenes that bring out both the best and worst of human emotions without going overboard.
There are many ways in which we deal with grief. Some get addicted to therapy sessions, being able to wallow out in self pity to others or to a counselor, finding it difficult to give up an avenue in which there's a ready listening ear. Others may find crutches in addictive material such as hitting the bottle, the smoking of drugs to bring on a high, or perhaps even through sex. New hobbies could be picked up, or how about a thorough spring-cleaning to get rid of most stuff that remind you of happier times that once were. There are countless of methods involved, and Rabbit Hole succinctly runs through each without you even knowing, in an unobtrusive manner in its narrative, which is why this film worked wonders.
But not all is doom and gloom in its compact narrative, as ultimately it's how we find the courage to let go and move on in life, where a singular, no doubt tragic, shouldn't be that one road block in our leading of our lives. There were moments of unintentional comedy that plays on ambiguity and perception during the part where Aaron Eckhart's Howie hosts a prospective family to whom to sell a house to, and that was as effectively movie yet comical in a bleak manner, ramming home the point that he's perhaps the more sentimental of the couple in finding it difficult to let go.
Not willing to be outshone by Aaron Eckhart, Nicole Kidman also puts on an Oscar winning perfomance as the housewife who had given up her high flying career, and becomes almost like a recluse in not wanting to mix too much with neighbours and friends lest they bring up her deceased kid inadvertently. There's a mix of emotions that Kidman displays brilliantly through the many subplots her character got involved in, from that with her sister's pregnancy out of wedlock no thanks to her musician boyfriend, and that of stalking her son's killer (Miles Teller), the latter of which subtly begins a healing process that's undoubtedly painful, before finding solace in the difficulties of enacting forgiveness.
What also made the film powerful is how restraint it is in telling its story, without finding the urge to want to put everything verbatim on screen. You're keep on a tight leash as to what exactly happened to Howie and Becca's son, and the manner of the reveal shows again the brilliance of David Lindsay Albaire's story, and John Cameron Mitchell's direction that prefers to let your mind do all the imagination it does. Expectations and anticipation is also kept high as you're kept wondering just how Howie and Becca's marriage will turn out, whether it can weather the impending storm they get themselves into when certain situations threaten to blow up, especially when we witness each side starting to keep little secrets from each other - catalysts for a doom in relationships if you will - with warning lights flashing that these will lead to unnecessary strain that we do see it happening.
I also enjoyed the key discussions on parallel universes, playing with the possibility that there are infinite numbers of us out there living parallel lives which could be something similar or vastly different from the path we've undertaken. It's a play of the mind with the many what if scenarios that we encounter, and wonder how it could actually play off should a different decision be taken, ones that will spiral differently, and perhaps bring a smile to our face knowing that there must be one specific path with lady luck and positive decisions making it ideal, one that exists somewhere out there, but it's just unfortunate not on the path we're currently in.
While it's all quite doom and gloom witnessing how a couple go through and deal with their pain, there's this sliver of hope always finding its way, and the real deal here is the type of positive encouragement to cry, and a way out of depression through a sliver of a hopeful future presented. Recommended!