Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Rabbit Hole

One of the themes that Hollywood loves to explore is loss. I’m sure you can think of a lot of examples where this has played out, especially concerning the loss of a child and the effect and impact it has on the parents.

Usually we are subjected to two hours of painstaking agony. We get a front row seat as we watch the lives of the parents fall apart and disintegrate. Seldom is there any hope or the ability to reconnect as a couple and once again find the beauty and happiness of life.

John Cameron Mitchell’s latest film, Rabbit Hole, is a film that breaks the traditional mold of most movies that deal with the subject of loss. It’s an exceptional film that features outstanding performances from Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart and Dianne Wiest. Rabbit Hole is about how we survive loss and how we find a way back to living our lives. The pain of losing a child is undoubtedly devastating. So what makes this film truly remarkable is the ability to overcome loss and find hope.

Becca Corbett (Nicole Kidman) and Howie Corbett (Aaron Eckhart) are a happily married successful, suburban couple enjoying the good life before they lose their four-year old son. Eight months later, they are still struggling to pick up the pieces. Whereas Howie finds comfort in the familiar trappings of his son’s drawings, possessions and his son’s dog, Becca sees only pain. The resulting conflict of how they deal with loss is the driving focus of the movie.

Becca and Aaron are on a collision course that has the potential to not only destroy their marriage but also their lives. Both are trying to cope in different ways. Becca connects with Jason (Miles Teller) who was driving the vehicle that struck and killed her son. Somehow, they form a unique bond and relationship. Aaron considers an affair with Gabby (Sandra Oh), whom he meets at a support group for parents who are dealing with the loss of a child. Further complicating the situation is Becca’s relationship with her sister, Izzy (Tammy Blanchard), who recently discovered she is pregnant as well as her relationship with her mother, Nat (Dianne Wiest) who is dealing with the loss of her son. Nat continually compares her loss with Becca’s loss which infuriates Becca.

Rabbit Hole is a complex story with complex relationships. It also poses some other interesting questions. Becca is upset with many of the comments made at her support group referencing God and why he would take away a child. One of the parents in the group states that God must have needed another angel. Becca came back with “Why couldn’t he just make one.” It appears that Becca was brought up in the church and perhaps blames God for what has happened. Becca’s mother, Nat, has found comfort in God through her loss. This theme also serves as a source of conflict between Becca and her mother.

We may never discover in this life why bad things happen to good people. But this film certainly provides a platform for discussion on the issue. Some find comfort in God while others blame him. Perhaps, ultimately what makes Rabbit Hole a redemptive story is it’s sense of optimism and hope that we can overcome and continue to find a way to move forward.

Nat said it best when she told Becca that the pain never goes away. It’s something that we carry forever. But she found that the loss changes over time. She said she found a way to live with it, and that’s OK.

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