Becca (Kidman) and Howie (Eckhart) are struggling to cope with the loss of their only child Danny. Eight months ago, Danny chased the family dog across the street, straight into the path of a helpless young driver. Feelings of guilt, blame and desperation now seem to define Becca and Howie’s lives. They don’t go out, unless it’s for one of the weekly group therapy sessions and they no longer have any real friends – social events will inevitably bring up a discussion of “How’re you coping without Danny?”. Both Becca and Howie are desperate to escape the rut that their lives have fallen into.
The story focuses itself upon Becca’s attempts at progressing out of a state of constant mourning; she decides that the group therapy sessions are no longer helping, filled as they are with Jesus-freaks and couples who seem addicted to revisiting their grief on a weekly basis to “touch base”. But this is just the first of several progressive steps out of mourning which threaten to throw her marriage into more chaos; whilst she can clear the fridge of Danny’s pictures and empty out his clothes from his old room, she’s unable to motivate herself with more constructive, human actions, such as regaining intimate with Howie. When she drops the idea that they should move house, Howie finds himself at crisis point.
Several sparky side stories support the main content of Becca and Howie’s fight to survive, breaking up a potentially heavy narrative with twists and drama. A young boy seemingly haunts Becca’s thoughts, as she continually makes attempts to bump into him – but why? And Izzy (Tammy Blanchard), Becca’s younger sister, has just announced that she’s pregnant with the child of some unemployed musician, throwing Becca into all-too-familiar family rows. As Howie takes it upon himself to make sacrifices for the sake of their marriage, he reaches out to unlikely sources of comfort which could, in turn, ruin his efforts.
The brilliance of the screen play allows Kidman’s character to be remarkably irritating, whilst at the same time, desperate enough to draw upon our sympathies. Becca is, at times, totally unreasonable in the ways in which she deals with her anguish, unleashing it on those caught up in her life. Kidman does brilliantly, and has taken the significant majority of those nominations which Rabbit Hole has received from this year’s various award ceremonies – but as to why Aaron Eckhart and Dianne West aren’t up for some form of plaudit makes no sense; their performances are as good as Kidman’s, if not better – why aren’t they getting the recognition?
Putting it simply, it’s because there’s just not that much to Rabbit Hole. There’s no real peril, no real engagement with the plot, because nothing sucks you into it. It’s ultimately a tragic story about people that you could really feel for – but we’re never really invited to feel for them. We just get to watch them rip each other apart as they try to love each other – which just gets a bit dull after a while. And you can never quite shake that nagging feeling that this is all in an attempt to get an Oscar…
It does, however, allow one Mr Miles Teller (pictured above left) to show the world why we should be excited by him. He’s bloody fantastic, and blows Kidman’s performance clean out of the water at tender age of 23. One to watch. But probably better to wait for a film he actually stars in.