Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer
The Farewell To Middle-earth Issue
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe: Get 12 Issues For £25
Buy the perfect Christmas present this year
Farewell To Middle-earth
Full details of our Peter Jackson-edited issue
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Nicole Kidman
Aaron Eckhart
Dianne Wiest
Sandra Oh
Miles Teller
Tammy Blanchard.
Directors
John Cameron Mitchell.
Screenwriters
David Lindsay-Abaire.
Running Time
91 minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
Annie
2 Star Empire Rating
Theory Of Everything, The
4 Star Empire Rating
Bringing Tibet Home
3 Star Empire Rating
Kon-Tiki
4 Star Empire Rating
Enemy
4 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Leviathan
5 Star Empire Rating
Le Jour Se Lève
5 Star Empire Rating
Tony Benn: Will And Testament
5 Star Empire Rating
Nightcrawler
5 Star Empire Rating
Babadook, The
5 Star Empire Rating

Rabbit Hole
Bravura in the face of grief


submit to reddit


Plot
Becca (Kidman) and Howie (Eckhart) lost their son eight months ago, when he was accidentally run over by a teenage driver (Teller). They are struggling to cope and maintain their marriage, but their differing approaches to the tragedy threaten to tear them apart.


Review
Rabbit Hole
The combination of subject — grief — and star name — Nicole Kidman, who also produces — might suggest self-consciously heavy Oscar bait, but set aside cynicism for a moment, because this is an unexpectedly hilarious, affectingly real look at how anguish can affect people. Sure, the words “acting tours de force” will be applied, deservedly, but this was not made for Academy voters. It feels universal, treating every parent’s ultimate nightmare as something worthy of three-dimensional examination rather than the usual lazy, heavy-handed empathy. John Cameron Mitchell, previously something of an enfant terrible with Hedwig And The Angry Inch and the explicit Shortbus, expertly blends tragedy and comedy here, and deserves all the praise he’s going to get.

So, instead of endless shots of Kidman and Aaron Eckhart heavily emoting or beating their breasts, here are two people going about their lives, albeit lives with a hole in the middle. They still live in a beautiful house, but one that’s full of memories. They still bitch and joke and shout and interact with friends and family and even laugh, however hard that gets. Their support group is a source of awkwardness and trite cliché rather than comfort, and the prescribed milestones in the moving-on playbook — packing up the toys, taking down the childish drawings — are sometimes rushed through or accidentally secured rather than agonised over.

As the gorgeous pair in their perfect home attempt to find new meaning in their lives, they threaten to spin apart. Kidman’s Becca, brittle and uptight, looks to return to her old job and forms a strange friendship with the teenager responsible for the accident (gifted newcomer Miles Teller). But her job has changed and her colleagues gone, and her teenage friend is as plagued by guilt and grief as she is. She’s abandoned by old friends, unable to face the tragedy she represents with their own children still by their sides, and she lashes out at her family’s cack-handed attempts to help — irresponsible, newly pregnant sister Izzy (Tammy Blanchard) and tipsy mother Nat (Dianne Wiest), herself bereaved. It’s clear that, while everyone has the best of intentions, there is simply nothing that will fix this, no assurance that can be given, when mere everyday life becomes a torturous reminder.

Eckhart’s Howie, meanwhile, has a less complex but no less convincing role. He’s the husband who sits, sleepless, watching videos of their son on his phone. He too forms an inappropriate friendship, with one of the other mothers in their bereaved parents group (Sandra Oh), and seems to regress towards a more carefree time. But he’s also fighting for his marriage, and if he seems more flexible than Becca, he’s just as broken underneath.

While the cast are uniformly excellent, they could hardly be otherwise with David Lindsay-Abaire’s script, based on his own play, to work from. The wit is biting, sometimes bitter, but never dishonest, puncturing the platitudes of grief. So, when another parent says that children died because “God needed another angel”, Becca is moved to laugh and ask, “Then why didn’t he just make one?”

That’s typical of the dialogue, and it’s those lines that ring out, the film not wallowing in grief but revelling in wit. Only in the last few moments does the tragedy really come home and the pair’s pain lie open, fully exposed. But there’s hope amid the ruins, even if there’s no reason for it.


Verdict
Don't be put off by the content; this is as clever, funny, foolish and frightening as real life. Kidman and Eckhart bring out the best in each other; Kidman, in particular, hasn't been this good since To Die For - and maybe not even then.


Reviewed by Helen O'Hara

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for Rabbit Hole
Empire Star Rating

did you ever hear of DOGVILLE ?????

''Kidman in particular, hasn't been this good since To Die For'' ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bill the butcher at 15:24, 06 March 2012 | Report This Post


did you ever hear of DOGVILLE ?????

''Kidman in particular, hasn't been this good since To Die For'' ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bill the butcher at 15:24, 06 March 2012 | Report This Post


Spoilers I like this film it makes me glad that kidman's character is not a "god freak" I would rather believe in parallel or multiple universes than in god or angels, I'm no scientist but it seems more plausible. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Bighousewill at 18:03, 10 July 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Rabbit Hole

L: Wild about Wilder I think you can tell this was a play to start with it just didn't seem to grab you, I thought the performances apart from the ever reliable Eckhart were pretty run of the mill & how Kidman got nominated over Noomi Rapace i'll never know? is very harsh, I mean I would agree that Kidman didn't deserve to be nominated, but to say Eckhart was the only noteworthy performance is a bit much, what about Wiest and Oh? Both were excellent for me. ... More

Posted by ElephantBoy at 18:29, 27 March 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Rabbit Hole

This is like the anti-christ to the film Anti-christ, a lighter more realistic look at loss and grief but strangely up-lifting and some comic touches among the horrible subject matter. The issues at hand are hard to empathise with and thus fore will put alot of movie-goers off seeing it but stick with it and it is quite rewarding stuff. It takes a look at all aspects of grief and from all sides, even some of the minor charachters are important to the grieving process. I would go so far as ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Roykfrapp at 14:06, 25 March 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Rabbit Hole

Adapting plays to the silver screen tend to be a tricky process in creating something that's truly visual although not so much when it comes to screenplay and performance. 'Rabbit Hole' continues this familiar trend with a script that is witty, moving and genuine throughout – giving what appears to be a brutally honest but by no means savagely depressing portrayal of a married couple struggling to deal with the loss of a child. The actors as well are all in top form; Kidman pro... More

Posted by Qwerty Norris at 16:15, 08 February 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Rabbit Hole

I think you can tell this was a play to start with it just didn't seem to grab you, I thought the performances apart from the ever reliable Eckhart were pretty run of the mill & how Kidman got nominated over Noomi Rapace i'll never know? ... More

Posted by Wild about Wilder at 15:21, 07 February 2011 | Report This Post


Rabbit Hole

Director: meron Mitchell Screenwriter: indsay-Abaire ing: Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Dianne Wiest, Miles Teller, Sandra Oh Synopsis Eight months following the death of their son, life for happy couple Becca and Howie (Kidman and Eckhart) has not been easy-going. Review When you think of films that dealt with the loss of a child, you would primarily think of classic and recent horror films like Don’t Look Now ichristugh if you’re going to compare the new film starring Nico... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by R W at 20:55, 04 February 2011 | Report This Post


SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS

SAVE UP TO 69% GET 12 ISSUES FOR ONLY £25
Get the best seat in the house by subscribing to the world's biggest movie magazine today. Save up to 69% and every month you'll get exclusive subscriber-only covers, access to the biggest stars and the best news, reviews and behind-the-scenes reports straight from the set. Click here to find the perfect offer for you


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Watch: Night At The Museum's Cast Share Their Favourite Robin Williams Performance
Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Ben Kingsley pay tribute to the actor

Watch: Jack O'Connell And Luke Treadaway Talk Unbroken
On POWs, panto and how to name your bomber

Review Of 2014: The 15 Best Cameos Of The Year
Our favourite one-scene movie-stealers

8 Things You Can Learn From The BFI's Star Wars Exhibition
The original crawl, a 'grotesque' villain and a very different princess

Review Of The Year: 40 Worst Posters Of 2014
One-sheets that you'd rather not have on your wall

Hobbit Q&As: Ian McKellen On Finally Saying Goodbye And Farewell To Gandalf The Grey
Read our exclusive Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies interviews

Review Of 2014: The Best TV Moments Of The Year
We celebrate the small screen's biggest scenes

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)