RABBIT HOLE (Dir. John Cameron Mitchell, 2010)
Married couple Aaron Eckhart and Nicole Kidman are shuffling through the motions of daily life. It's been 8 months since their son was killed - hit by a car - and the lingering pain has yet to recede.
Eckhart thinks group therapy will help with their grief, but Kidman hates what she calls the "God people" in their sessions. Such overly religious folks like the sobbing parent who says of her deceased daughter "God had to take her. He needed another angel."
Kidman dryly can't help but respond: "Why didn't he just make one? I mean, another angel? He's God after all...why didn't he just make another angel?"
Kidman leaves the group after this, but Eckhart returns and makes friends with Sandra Oh as a seemingly more stable group member who has been attending for almost a decade.
Meanwhile Kidman has to contend with a pregnant sister (the acerbic Tammy Blanchard), and their haggard yet still spunky mother (Diane Wiest) who had lost her son to a drug overdose - a comparison to Kidman's loss that she hates her mother to make.
Driving one day, Kidman spots a schoolbus and sees a teenage student that triggers recognition in her. She follows it and sees the student (Miles Teller) get off and enter his suburban home.
Stalking the student becomes a routine until the boy confronts her and we learn that he was the driver of the automobile that killed her son.
Also haunted by the death, Teller is apologetic and shows Kidman a comic book he's working on entitled RABBIT HOLE about parallel universes, time-holes, and alternate realities.
So Eckhart and Kidman don't cheat on each other, but they reach for others for support instead of each other and the film's unforced manner makes it easy to empathize.
It's one of Kidman's sharpest and most piercing performances with Eckhart matching her with some of his most nuanced acting to date. No predictions here, but I expect their names won't be left out in awards season.
Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning play by David Lindsay-Abaire, the inescapable sense of pain is palpable in RABBIT HOLE, but it's not a depressing film.
Director Mitchell's (best known as Hedwig in the cult favorite HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH) naturalistic style and compassion for these characters creates an extremely well constructed and moving film.