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December 26, 2010

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Drama dealing with loss

"RABBIT Hole" is suffocatingly sad, as you can imagine any film would be that deals with the death of a young child. The challenge is to find a way to get people to sit through it, without being filled with abject dread.

John Cameron Mitchell achieves that directing graceful performances from Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart, which are filled with subtle moments as well as recognizable human frailties and flaws.

David Lindsay-Abaire adapted the screenplay from his own Pulitzer Prize-winning play. While Mitchell has expanded the scenery a bit, you still can never shake the sensation that you're watching a play on film.

Kidman does some of her most effective work in a while as Becca, a mother who methodically keeps herself busy to avoid thinking about her little boy, who was hit by a car eight months earlier. While her mother (Dianne Wiest) encourages her to talk about what happened, Becca will do anything to forget about it.

But Eckhart, as her husband, Howie, wants to remember his son - through group therapy and old videos. At a time when they should be supporting each other, they couldn't be further apart.

From there, the disparate paths they follow are unexpected and fascinating - the relationships they forge come fraught with emotional peril and potential marital harm. Howie strikes up a flirtatious friendship with another grieving mother, while Becca tries to find closure by seeking out the teenager (Miles Teller) who was behind the wheel that fateful day. "Rabbit Hole" actually could have gotten a little weirder, even - it pulls back just a bit, and too soon.

Again, there's no correct answer when it comes to coping with such a loss. But "Rabbit Hole" suggests that its characters are at least starting to ask the right questions.


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