Often the audience in a movie theater is seeking one thing; to escape. Audiences, at their core, go to the movies because they like to be entertained by the trials and tribulations that the people on-screen face. Society's need to be entertained by films may show that people would rather watch other people's problems in a dark, quiet multiplex than deal with their own day-to-day worries. So, it comes as a shock to the audience when a film is neither entertaining or an escape. The problems that propel the drama in Rabbit Hole are not for your escapist entertainment, and you will not leave the theater smiling. Rabbit Hole is a film that takes the viewer in, and makes them feel the pain of the characters. This, ladies and gentleman, is the sign of a good dramatic film. Rabbit Hole succeeds for one very basic reason; it evokes such a strong emotional response that it won't be forgotten easily or quickly.
The film revolves around married couple Becca and Howie (Aaron Eckhart and Nicole Kidman). The two have just lost their only child in a tragic accident. Needless to say, they have holed themselves up in their own little world, and despite their showy efforts to let people in, the truth is they'd rather be in their own little bubble. Howie is confident that a support group will ease his pain and help him move on, where Becca is trying to literally ignore the situation, and hopes one day she won't remember it at all. She deletes videos of her deceased son, tries to give away his clothes, and attempts to act like he was never around at all. As Howie becomes infuriated by her process of grief, the two tumble together, pulling each other further down with every altercation they have.
Nicole Kidman's portrayal of Becca is absolutely heart-wrenching, and is the best performance of her career. This examiner absolutely hates Kidman and most of her movies, but this film works simply because she is in it. She flip-flops between enthusiastic, catty and uneasy with little effort. Becca is feeling an array of different emotions, and Kidman makes each one believable. Her constant mood swings and sullen demeanor only work because Kidman does them flawlessly. She plays a character with so many layers you couldn't count them if you tried. Becca is heartbroken, and so is Kidman. And because of this, so are you. If she won a second Oscar for this performance, it would be well-deserved.
There are many great supporting performances, notably from Diane Weist and Sandra Oh. However, it is Aaron Eckhart who is truly gripping. With many great roles and decent films to his credit, he was always a good actor. However, if his interpretation of Howie doesn't make him an A-list star, I don't know what will. The scenes where he goes into fits of rage cause a feeling of uneasiness and fear to literally overcome the viewer. He has screen presence in this film that rivals the greats, and the fact he isn't getting much awards attention a huge oversight.
Rabbit Hole is a film that cuts the viewer deep. It is a character study that will leave you wanting to literally hug the principle characters at the end of the ordeal. It is a bleak, difficult and heart wrenching film that provides no sense of excitement or entertainment. You'll be glad when it's over, and you may not want to watch it ever again. However, you will never regret seeing it, because Rabbit Hole digs in, and won't ever let go. And in the end, films are supposed to touch you in ways you never thought possible. Rabbit Hole will break your heart make you want to break down in tears, and you'll be better for it.