Rabbit Hole

Posted on December 23, 2010 at 7:43 am

B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material, some drug use and language
Profanity: Strong language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Drinking, marijuana
Violence/ Scariness: References to tragic deaths, tense and unhappy confrontations
Diversity Issues: Diverse characters
Date Released to Theaters: December 17, 2010

When you suffer a devastating loss, there is the pain of missing what you once had. But there is pain that goes beyond the space circumscribed by the person who is gone. Grief is its own planet and everyone who goes there lives alone.
“Rabbit Hole” begins eight months after the death of a little boy. His parents move like highly functional but very fragile zombies through their lives. Some of those around them, think and even use words like “closure” and “move on” and even “try again,” mostly out of their own discomfort at the way this loss has threatened their own sense of the rightness of the world. Others just stay away, paralyzed by their inability to think of anything to say in this most unthinkable of moments. And Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie (Aaron Eckhart) are still being confronted with horrifically painful decisions — should they keep or get rid of their child’s things? — and even more painful reminders that for others life goes on (Becca’s careless sister is pregnant). Rabbit-Hole-Poster.jpg
David Lindsay-Abaire has sensitively adapted his award-winning play by to the screen and with director John Cameron Mitchell (“Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” “Shortbus”) has filled the story with privileged moments, beautifully performed by Nicole Kidman (Becca) and Aaron Eckhart (Howie). Both of them have to find a way to re-invent their interaction with the world or perhaps to re-invent their understanding of what world they live in. Her response is to hold everything inside, to try to maintain control. She affects an almost grotesque normality. When he comes up behind her for a hug as she is at the stove, she is bright but brittle as she shoos him away. She rolls her eyes at the support group for bereaved parents and will not return. But Howie wants to hold on to his memories and process his pain; he needs that kind of contact. He stays in the group. He keeps watching a video of their son — until Becca erases it.
They cannot reach out to each other, but each reaches out to someone else who is uniquely understanding. Howie becomes close to the leader of the bereavement group (Sandra Oh). And Becca watches and then begins to talk to the teenager who was driving the car that killed her son. It is heart-wrenching to see how he is able to reach her instincts as a mother, feelings for which she no longer has any other place.
This is a touching, insightful film with exquisite performances. If we all grieve on our own planet, it is art like this that illuminates the way home.

(more…)

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Based on a play Drama Movies -- format

Catch and Release

Posted on January 22, 2007 at 12:21 pm

For the first time, screenwriter Susannah Grant not only writes but directs with this messy romantic weepie about a woman whose fiance is killed just before the wedding.


Grant is known for writing movies with strong female characters, from Disney’s Pocahontas to Julia Roberts’ starring title roles in Charlotte’s Web and Erin Brocovich. But she is less certain as a director, and the result is an uneven tone and a rickety structure. It might still be watchable except for the more serious problem, a fundamental failure to understand that the characters are far less adorable than the movie needs them to be. Even after reported substantial cuts and reworking, our patience and affection runs out long before the movie is over.


Jennifer Garner is Gray, who ends up at a funeral on what was supposed to have been her wedding day. The presents are in piles, the cake is in the freezer. The flowers and people are there, but they are funeral flowers and the people are sad and shell-shocked. Gray hides out in the bathtub, pulling the shower curtain around her for some privacy. So she is stuck there when her fiance’s friend Fritz (Timothy Olyphant of HBO’s “Deadwood”) stumbles in with the caterer and a joint for a quickie against the sink.


See what I mean about less charming than the movie thinks they are? Later on, in what is clearly intended to be a moment of adorable vulnerability, Gray confides her flaws and quirks to a group of friends and they include stealing library books, having had sex once with another woman, and enjoying natural disasters with lots of casualties.


All of this comes about as Gray finds out that her fiance (oddly named Grady) had not told her everything about himself. There’s a matter of a substantial bank account she never knew about. And another woman. With a child.

But I’m not done with the not-as-cute-as-they-think-they-are cast of characters. Gray cannot afford the home she was going to share with Grady, so she moves into his old room with his old friends Dennis (Sam Jaeger) and Sam (Kevin Smith, no longer Silent and trying to be the new Jack Black). So apparently Grady had that secret bank account and could manage that dream house they were going to live in but was still in a group house? Well, let’s not dwell on that because it’s the only way to get Gray into all those cute situations with the intended-to-be-adorable arrested development crew. And, just to make it all even more cozy, Fritz, the highly successful but not really happy LA commercial director moves in, too. And then, just to make it even more of a sit-com set-up, Grady’s other girlfriend (I know! Let’s make her all into psychic energy and massages and stuff!) and her wild child of a son. Won’t that be cute and touching? Nope.


Reportedly cut down from an unwieldy running time, it feels like a jigsaw puzzle with a few pieces missing — that forms a picture that wasn’t worth waiting for. Perhaps it’s all that fishing, but even the usually endearing Garner looks a little piscatory — those lips, you know.

Parents should know that this movie has some mature material including a very sad loss, a possible suicide attempt, issues of betrayal, and paternity testing. Characters drink, smoke marijuana, and take prescription tranquilizers (mixing with alcohol). There are sexual references and situations, including casual sex and references to being unfaithful. Characters use some strong and crude language.


Families who see this movie should talk about why the people in Grady’s life saw him so differently. Who knew him best? Would you have liked him? Why wasn’t he more honest with Gray?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the book Shine On, Bright and Dangerous Object by Laurie Colwin and the movies Moonlight and Valentino and Moonlight Mile.

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Comedy Date movie Drama Romance
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