The most notable thing about this film is how easy it is to watch, given the subject matter. Adapted from his own stage production by David Lindsay-Abaire, Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart play a middle-class couple coming to terms with the recent death of their young son. Bleak, you’d think – but with its steady camerawork, gentle score and calm pacing, somehow Rabbit Hole passes by quite pleasantly, without any hint of lasting impact: a cinematic soufflé, if you will.
One point of interest was how the two Hollywood actors would react to more ‘serious’ roles. In the event, Kidman is fine – her face moves around a bit, which is more than can be said for some previous performances. Aaron Eckhart has a nice, natural presence, until the time comes (on two occasions) for him to get angry and he goes for it in a big way: hair flapping, lines yapped out, he reminded me of Oh Dae Su pretending to be a dog at the end of Oldboy.
Dianne Wiest is the standout as Kidman’s mother, who has also lost her son, to heroin addiction. She has a great scene having had too much wine at a bowling-alley birthday (actors doing ‘drunk’ well always gets me). And, most memorably, towards the end of the film she offers Kidman a neat extended metaphor about the loss of a child (or perhaps simply grief) that’s taken directly from the play. I couldn’t decide whether it was horribly cloying or nice and sweet – perhaps you can (cheers, Lionsgate website):
“I don’t think it does [go away]. Not for me it hasn’t. It changes though… the weight of it, I guess. At some point it becomes bearable. It turns into something you can crawl out from under, and carry around. Like a brick in your pocket. And you forget it every once in a while, but then you reach in for whatever reason and there it is: “Oh right. That.” Which can be awful. But not all the time. Sometimes it’s kinda… Not that you like it exactly, but it’s what you have instead of your son, so you don’t wanna let go of it either. So you carry it around. And it doesn’t go away, which is… fine… actually.”