Rabbit Hole * * * 1/2

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Director: John Cameron Mitchell.
Screenplay: David Lindsay-Abaire.
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Dianne Wiest, Miles Teller, Tammy Blanchard, Sandra Oh, Giancarlo Esposito, Jon Tenney, Stephen Mailer, Mike Doyle.

Films with bleak subject matters tend not to be easy viewing but when they are infused with sterling actors, working from a Pulitzer prize winning play, it’s hard not to find something to enjoy.

Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie (Aaron Eckhart) lost their son eight months ago, when he was accidentally run over by a teenage driver (Miles Teller). They are struggling to cope and maintain their marriage, while their differing approaches to the tragedy threaten to tear them apart.

As we pick up the story of these two heartbroken parents in the aftermath of the accident, the cracks are already apparent. Grief is primarliy the focus here and it’s explored to a lenghty extent with each parent dealing with things in their own and very different way. It’s a tough subject matter that’s dealt with respectfully and gently, infused with a surprising amount of humour and skillfully manages to avoid cliche. There is nothing showy or extravagant. It’s just relies on the strength of it’s writing and solid acting, of which it has in abundance; both raw and emotive, Kidman and Eckhart deliver strong progressive characterisations and they are supported by the ever-reliable Dianne Wiest and one for the watching, newcomer Miles Teller. Kidman was the one that recieved a best actress Oscar nomination (and deservedly so) but it’s a film that no performance can be singled out. They are all equally brilliant. Despite the fanatastic cast though, the morbidity does become a bit of a slog. You soon realise that the grief will always be with them, there is no happy ending here, no sense of relief or satisfaction, only coping mechanisms, leaving you feeling as exhausted as the characters.

The tensions between Kidman and Eckhart are brilliantly observed and as a character piece it’s outstanding, just don’t expect to come out of it with a smile on your face.

Mark Walker

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