Thursday, December 16, 2010
Why would someone with a 2 1/2 year-old want to make a film about losing a young child in an unforeseeable fatal accident?
I just saw an interview with Nicole Kidman where she muses, as a left-handed person, at times her approach to the world can be uncommon, not only literally, but intellectually and creatively. She likes to delve into her worst fears and make herself do things that make her uncomfortable. As a fellow lefty, I think I can relate, it's why I'm blogging and Christmas shopping and getting my eyebrows professionally waxed when I should be in a fit of despair and panic that no visible means of support has presented itself thus far. Is this my left-handed brain unintentionally taking me to an insecure place for me to live out my worst fears?
And is David Lindsay-Abaire, the Tony and Pulitzer Prize winning playwright of Rabbit Hole (click for trailer) a lefty too? Does that explain his desire to delve into such an unbearable nightmare type of scenario, while being the father of a 4 year-old?
Kidman and her producing partner, Per Saari, optioned the rights to this story in 2006 and hired Lindsay-Abaire, to write the screenplay adaptation. Four years later, Director John Cameron Mitchell (who I confuse with Cameron Crowe, cause that's how my left-hand brain works), Aaron Eckhart, Dianne Wiest and an actress that I always wish to see more of, Tammy Blanchard, create a film of note to premiere at The Toronto Film Festival, and is now receiving Oscar buzz.
I started by talking about fear and despair, but Rabbit Hole is really about surviving, living and finding your footing again after the worse has happened. The film starts 8 months after Becca (Kidman) and Howie (Eckhart) have lost their 4 year-old son Danny. Becca seems fragile, but she's coping, meticulously gardening and cooking. Howie, in the beginning, seems to be more adjusted, coming in from work and affectionately coming up behind Becca in the kitchen.
It's not until we see them at dinner after their support group meeting, that we start to understand these two people have been dealing with their grief very differently - Becca wants to move on, sell the house and leave behind as many of her memories as possible. Howie often likes to watch a video of Danny on his phone and feels comforted by the child's art work on the refrigerator. Understandably, these opposing methods have been wearing away the fabric of their marriage. This, along with Becca's accusation that Howie is "roping" her into having sex, after an 8 month absence of physical intimacy.
The other major arcs of the piece come out of the relationships the couple forms away from each other. Howie with an 8 year veteran of the support group, Gaby (Sandra Oh) and Becca with Jason (Miles Teller) a 17 year-old, illustrating a comic book called "The Rabbit Hole".
I enjoyed the film as a whole. It's not filled with histrionics or mellow drama. I was very impressed with the comedic beats, real humor that comes from observing life and relationships. However, I didn't find it as interesting or the acting as stellar as Blue Valentine, which sets a similar tone.
Rabbit Hole hits theaters this Friday, December 17th.