By Leonard Maltin | Leonard Maltin December 17, 2010 at 5:20AM
A film about a couple trying to get over the loss of their young son is not likely to generate what marketers call a high “want-to-see” factor. But when the story is told with care, honesty, and even moments of humor that reflect the unpredictability—and absurdity—of life, it deserves to be seen.
John Lindsay-Abaire won a Pulitzer Prize for his Broadway play of the same name, and Nicole Kidman, who produced this film, hired him to adapt his work for the screen. John Cameron Mitchell, best known as the co-creator, star, and director of the musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch, has done a fine job of interpreting the material without an ounce of—
—pretension or preciousness.
I think the reason Rabbit Hole works so well is that its characters aren’t plaster saints: they’re genuine. Kidman and Aaron Eckhart play a successful suburban couple whose marriage has stagnated in the wake of their tragic loss. She has shut down, and resents his attempts to get her to deal with her feelings in group therapy, or even to consider having sex again.
Anyone who has suffered an emotional wallop like this will recognize the honesty of Lindsay-Abaire’s dialogue and situations, full of well-meaning friends and family (including Kidman’s garrulous mother, well played by the wonderful Dianne Wiest) and fellow walking-wounded (like the grieving mom in group therapy portrayed by Sandra Oh). Miles Teller also gives an impressively nuanced performance as the teenaged boy who plays a crucial role in Kidman’s evolving emotional journey.
Rabbit Hole doesn’t wallow in sorrow; instead, it tries to explore the many facets of grief and resolution, and that’s what makes it worthwhile. That, and the exceptional work of its cast.