Saturday, December 25, 2010
Grieving is a universal and daunting experience that everybody can relate to sooner or later in their lives. However, grieving a young child must be an traumatizing mind torture that some of us can only imagine. Unfortunately, some have to endure such profoundly miserable human emotion. A burning question these unlucky ones constantly struggle to face is "Now what?" Adapted from a Pulitzer Prize winning play, "Rabbit Hole" (USA 2009 | 91 min.) does not necessarily provide any answer to such a question, but it does give an honest and unforgettable account to a family's coping with a tragedy like this. Nicole Kidman's Oscar-calibrated performance surely secures her another nomination, if not another win.
Eight months after Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie (Aaron Eckhart) lose their toddler son in a car accident, they are still overwhelmed by grief in the devastating reality. However, Becca and Howie need resolutions, need to move on, need to get back to their normal lives. They diligently maneuver their interactions with family members, co-workers, neighbors, and support groups, and try to rebuild the relationship between themselves that has been deeply affected by the tragedy.
The film is remarkable for treating such a downer subject matter without being sentimental. It confronts the raw emotion without evoking convenient empathy toward the death of a child, but occasionally with humor and laughter. It creates a few convincing and memorable characters whom we are able to identify and feel with, but not to become sappy with. Among these characters, Becca's mom (terrifically played by Dianne Wiest) stands out. She always has the best quotable lines that are comforting and thought provoking.
The film is a big surprise to the audience who are familiar with director John Cameron Mitchell's previous two films: a transsexual punk rock star's story in "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" and explicit sex congested "Shortbus." It shows the director's incredible range and flexibility in his creativity and style that we can never predict. That is a not a bad thing. In "Rabbit Hole," he takes us to a journey that is hard to forget, even we never intend to take the trip. Along the way, he offers one of this year's best films.