How does each of us handle personal loss, resulting in a
grief that plunges us into the dark night of the soul? That’s the pivotal question being asked in
Rabbit Hole starring Nicole Kidman (Becca) and Aaron Eckhart (Howie) who have
suffered the unthinkable loss of their four-year-old son due to a tragic auto
Former businesswoman Becca consoles herself by devoting her
energies to gardening and baking.
Perhaps this is a typical woman’s response by nurturing life, and
creating something new from almost nothing, just as she did when she helped
create her beloved child. Howie, on the
other hand immerses himself in a grief therapy group. (Becca has already
dropped out because she finds too many there whose grief has become a living
entity, an entity that sits darkly among them occupying a virtual seat). At
the group Howie finds solace in befriending Gaby (Sandra Oh), who numbs her
feelings by smoking pot. In one scene
she and Howie share some weed in her car before the therapy session, and
embarrass themselves by laughing uncontrollably at the heartfelt outpouring of
a group member. Just say NO people!
Having made the joint decision to sell the house, Howie
insists on following the real estate agent around during an open house. He ushers an interested young couple with a
young son in tow, into his child’s former bedroom, and answers hesitantly, but
truthfully, when asked the age of his son.
Understandably, the couple can’t wait to leave. The look on the real estate agent’s face says
it all. In the midst of grief there is humor, because this is life, after all.
Becca, on her part further distances herself from Howie by
consoling Jason (Miles Teller) the guilty teenager who is responsible for her
son’s demise. Jason has created a graphic
novel, whose title bears the name of the film. In his world, life exists in a parallel
universe where accidents don’t happen, and little boys don’t run into the
street. Becca’s expression when viewing
the novel is a wistful one, revealing just how much Becca longs to follow Jason
down that Rabbit Hole.
The film is based on the Pulitzer Prize winning play by
David Lindsey-Abaire, who lovingly shows us that each of us deal with the
grieving process in our own unique way.
It is above all a survivor’s story.
Becca’s mother, who has also lost a son, tells us that grief is like a
brick that is always carried, that never quite disappears, but the weight of it
can be shifted so the burden can be borne.
As the denouement approaches you have the sense that Becca and Howie
will share that burden and move on, as all of us must eventually.
Note: Nicole Kidman was nominated for best actress for her
performance in Rabbit Hole.