Rabbit Hole


Written by Blair Mishleau
07 Monday 07th February 2011

Unlike his previous films, such as Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the tack isn't to shove tragedy into the audience’s face, instead taking a disengaged approach that slowly become heart wrenching. A bit into the film we learn that our protagonists, Becca and Howie Corbett, are still recovering from their young son Danny’s death after a car accident eight months prior.

Director John Cameron Mitchell talks with Nicole Kidman

Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart play a wealthy, straight-laced couple who seem content, if a bit distant from each other. Their acting is measured and concise, with Kidman a bit lofty at times.

The film seems most genuine during the moments shared between the couple as they try to pick up the pieces and see how the event has changed them as people.

As a grieving parent, Eckhart tries to remember his son. We see him watching family videos on his iPhone, crying softy. Kidman’s character, Becca, releases her grief in a more coded way. Via awkward, passive gestures she tries to forget her son and move blindly forward. She deletes videos of her son from her husband’s iPhone and gives his clothing to charity, to her husband’s confusion and rage. She forms a weird relationship with young comic-book artist, Jason - the teenage driver of the car that killed Danny, whom one might imagine she would harbour resentment towards.

During a group therapy session, she mocks a religious couple for claiming that God needed another angel, so he took their daughter. She icily quips, “Why didn’t he just make another angel? He’s God, after all.” When confronted with her behaviour, she offers weak excuses and what seems to be a general apathy. It’s soon obvious that this is her coping method for such impossible pain.

Seasoned actress Diane Wiest, playing Kidman’s mother, makes the plot richer. We learn that Kidman’s brother also suffered an untimely death, and Wiest’s loving character plays a stark contrast to Kidman’s muted grief. While Wiest took comfort in religion, Kidman is adamantly opposed to such a concept. As Wiest tries to comfort her, Kidman lashes out, trying to deny the obvious parallels between the deaths. 

By the end couple’s relationship is in a rocky but improving state. For the first time since Danny’s death, they have friends to visit. The final frame has Kidman reaching for her husband’s hand, the first sign of affection she’s shown towards him since the film’s start.

Its goal as a work is somewhat ambiguous, as there are many layers to peel back. Those who have shared loss will likely connect with it, as it paints a clear and utterly believable portrait of a family dealing with the unexpected cruelty of life. 

Rabbit Hole is currently on general release

Don't Panic attempt to credit photographers and content owners wherever possible, however due to the sheer size and nature of the internet this is sometimes impractical or impossible. If you see any images on our site which you believe belong to yourself or another and we have incorrectly used it please let us know at panic@dontpaniconline.com and we will respond asap.