Friday, 4 February 2011

Rabbit Hole

Eight months after the tragic car accident that killed their young son, Becca and Howie Corbett are struggling to cope with the tragedy. Whereas Howie is open about his grief and buries himself in memories of his son, Becca represses her grief and feels the need to systematically remove memories of Danny from their house. As they both seek to redefine their positions within their relationship, both of them start to make decisions which could potentially change things forever...

It’s odd: For 10 months of the year, you get a decidedly standard collection of releases with maybe one or two standouts, but then, come January and February, you get inundated with a plethora of films all stamped ‘For Your Consideration’, all held back for awards season so that they all get lost amongst one another and they’ll all be judged evenly. Or at least that’s the plan. So here’s Rabbit Hole with Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart. So has it rightly been held back for release until now? Ehhh...

My gripe with this is that the story has been done before, and never has a main character in a story like this been such an unidentifiable, disingenuous, argumentative, thoroughly unlikeable cow. Nicole Kidman plays the grieving mother Becca who grieves by starting arguments with everyone around her and attempting to move on with her life by clearing out memories of her dead son. Surely the whole idea of the story is to try and identify with the character and to share her grief? Since Becca seemingly refuses to grieve openly, it makes it really hard to attach yourself either to her or the story, and thus the entire premise of the film is lost.

That’s not to discredit the performance of Kidman, she plays the annoyingly dissociative bint to a tee. She’s probably done exactly what was asked of her and good for her. Aaron Eckhart is great in this, playing a grieving a father they way you’d expect him to be played – Wanting for his deceased son, clutching onto memories of him, gathering support from the people around here. Dianne Wiest deserves a mention here too, playing Becca’s mother, as she plays the mother confused by her daughter’s reaction well. It’s also nice to see Sandra Oh pop up as well in a key role playing off of the main cast, much as she did in Sideways.

There’s nothing particularly stunning visually, so if you don’t mind, I’ll go back to having a go at the writing. There’s nothing wrong than taking a well-worn story like parents losing their child and putting a different spin on it, but you still need to retain the grief element or else it loses its human element. You get that with Eckhart’s grieving father, you get that with the grieving family, you even get that from the support group they go to. Quite possibly the most important person you need it from is the mother. When that goes missing, you take a huge leap of faith and risk stepping into the abyss. This one falls in, head first. Even Eckhart’s character Howie gets so bloody sick of her, he... I won’t ruin it, but he gets sick of her too. She’s just annoying and indifferent to a horrifying situation.

Overall, this wasn’t my cup of tea. Not for the subject matter, but for the way it was told. Call me a traditionalist, but I want to see parents grieving for their lost child rather than act like a callous bitch. Good for them for giving this a go, but it’s just completely missed its mark by my standards. It loses its ability to absorb the viewer by having such a dissociative lead character, and for me that’s just sloppy writing. Acting’s good enough, visually unspectacular, aurally unspectacular, writing bloody annoying. Other people may see this and argue, but hey, this is just my opinion, it’s not gospel. You want to tell me where I’m wrong then go ahead. Will I read it? Probably not. Will I care? Definitely not. I know what I like, and it isn’t this.

Rating: **