FILM REVIEW On loss and words

Rabbit Hole constructs an intimate portrait of human emotion

Rabbit Hole

Directed by John Cameron Mitchell

Starring Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Dianne Wiest

Rated PG-13, now playing

Rabbit Hole is based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning play by David Lindsay-Abaire of Boston. I discovered this fact after watching the movie, but I was not surprised. What kept me captivated and what makes Rabbit Hole a movie worth watching is the dialogue. Rabbit Hole is a movie constructed of words uttered by characters — subtle, like human expressions.

The story simply revolves around a couple trying to recover from the loss of their young son. As Becca (Nicole Kidman) tries to move on and erase of the memory of her son, her husband Howie (Aaron Eckhart) finds absorbing the memories of his son a way of coping. The couple struggles to find ways to function through each day. Support from well-meaning characters add further depth to the situation, both positively and negatively, and details of the plot are flawlessly revealed when they are least expected.

But Rabbit Hole is not a depressing drama. The movie has many bitterly humorous moments. Despite the burden of constant tension, the audience laughs and smiles just as we laugh at ourselves and at our own experiences. Everything is realistic and natural, no matter how unusual.

Nicole Kidman’s performance alone should be enough to make the movie worth watching. She completely transforms into the new role. Her qualities are at once distressing and funny, and the Becca that she plays is a real human being, not just a character on a screen. The nuances of her personality play out in her face, her hands, and in the way she rolls up her sleeve. She creates a real presence in the first minutes of the movie as she plants flowers in her backyard.

But there is more to Rabbit Hole. Such simple plot allows an understated portrayal of complexity in human relationships — the concepts of loss, guilt, family, parenthood, friendship, social interaction, and so many other things we encounter every day as human beings. It is all so realistic; nothing dramatic, for life is dramatic enough in its least dramatic form.

I heard some people cry in the theater, but I did not. Perhaps I am too young to be brought to tears by such a simple story. But I was touched and moved, and the end of the film was one of the greatest scenes I’ve ever seen. There are plenty of things I could say, but I’d like to be straightforward: I liked Rabbit Hole, and you should see it.