Monday, June 06, 2011

Rabbit Hole: Grade B


Rabbit Hole (2010)

Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Dianne Wiest, Miles Teller, Sandra Oh; Director John Cameron Mitchell.

Kidman and Eckhart play an affluent suburban couple trying to deal with the death of their 8 year-old son in a car accident. They react differently to the loss, Eckhart seeking comfort in group therapy, Kidman with solitary anger and bitterness, then finally by striking up a relationship with the teenager who drove the lethal car (Teller).

It is easy to imagine that loss of a child could put enormous stresses on a marriage, as it does in this case, but despite all the shouting and gazing blankly into middle distance, I did not feel the pain. Maybe that’s just me, but there was nothing interesting said or shown. The characters react in the ordinary way that you would expect people to react, and say and do things ordinary people would, so in all, the story line of the movie is hackneyed, fundamentally boring and plays to cheap melodrama.

But it’s not all bad. The acting is superb, especially Kidman, and Wiest who plays her mother. Kidman lives up to her reputation as an extraordinary actor, and with guts too, appearing without makeup in several scenes. Despite all the work she’s had done, she is aging well. Eckhart turns in a better performance than I’ve ever seen before and is mostly convincing. Sandra Oh, a friend “at group,” is always a pleasure to watch. I wish she were in more features. But the real surprise was Teller, the kid who drove the car that accidentally killed the child. He has an intensity that reminds me of young Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate. I hope he follows a similar acting trajectory.

The script is also spot on, with dialog that rings true and is often subtly, darkly funny.The casting was creative and a real strength. Sets and costumes are perfect. Music is inoffensive. Except for the overly sentimental, dead-end story premise, this is a film well worth watching.

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