When “Rabbit Hole” opened on Broadway in 2006, The New York Times review advised the theater to have its flood insurance in good order.
“The wrenching new play by David Lindsay-Abaire inspires such copious weeping among its audience that you wonder early on if you should have taken a life jacket,” wrote Ben Brantley, who went on to praise the play for its “honesty, accuracy and humor.”
Now with the release of the movie version — which was entrusted to the surprising choice of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” director John Cameron Mitchell and delivered at $10 million, chump change in Hollywood — let the weeping cease, put away the handkerchiefs and celebrate an exceptional film.
Most people seeing “Rabbit Hole” will likely know beforehand that it is about parents who deal with the loss of their young child, who died in an accident.
Amazingly, nothing predictable or obvious follows from the persistent soap-opera plot. Nothing sappy or tear-jerking is served. Instead, the film presents valid life and characters in a deeply affecting manner.
Much credit goes to Nicole Kidman and Dianne Wiest for creating characters without acting.
Kidman is the central figure, the mother coping with indescribable loss. From her first appearance, as she plants flowers in her garden, and well into the story, she appears normal — yet there seems to be something frozen within her.
Viewers unaware of the plot could watch the film for a half-hour without figuring out what is off about her behavior, or her marriage.
As her husband, Aaron Eckhart excellently captures his difficulties, caught between coping with the past and trying to move on.
Miles Teller, a young actor in his first feature film, makes his mark in a difficult role as Kidman’s unexpected friend. Virtually without lines, Teller commands attention.
Wiest plays Kidman’s mother in an understated, effortless performance that elevates her brief screen time to what is among the most lasting memories of “Rabbit Hole.”
Characters created by Wiest and Kidman, moments of laughter that are never inappropriate or jarring and a judiciously uplifting, if not “happy,” ending are what set this film apart from so many mere movies.
After the screen goes dark, you will carry the people of “Rabbit Hole” with you.
Rabbit Hole ???½
Starring Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Dianne Wiest, Miles Teller
Written by David Lindsay-Abaire
Directed by John Cameron Mitchell
Running time 1 hour 31 minutes