I didn’t know Rabbit Hole was an adaptation, until the opening credits. I tend to bequite wary of films that areadaptations of plays. The static feeling they have bothers me a little, not enough to dislike a film, but it’s always there. I have nothing against plays – I quite enjoy them.However most scripts written for the stage rarely lose the theatre feeling on screen. So when I saw in the opening credits that it was based on a play, I was like ‘Ohh.’
For a film that had me suddenly very unexcited in the opening minutes, Rabbit was wonderful. I don’t know how much he changed, but playwright David Lindsay-Abaire has transformed his play for the screen very well, and it almost lacks that feeling. The small part it still has of that stage-play sense actually works well for the understated mood John Cameron Mitchell is going for (quite different from his last, Shortbus).
There are moments where the whole understated thing actually feels like an accident, because of the setting of the movie. When dealing with a couple that loses a child, the norm is to include the point when the child dies, and show the initial stages of their grief. Here, we begin 8 months into their changed lives. Most of the time you believe that they’re trying to get on with their lives, but there are moments in the beginning where it feels like they’re trying not to give away too much at one time. Its one thing to write it so things are reveal gradually, but if the viewer can feel it, that’s probably not the screenwriter’s fault.
The plot of the film is actually revealed like little plot twists, like when you find out why the neighbor is ‘just being nice’ or why they’re at group meetings, or who the teenager is Nicole Kidman is stalking. I loved that these aren’t things they dwell on, it’s almost like we are expected to know all this. The thing is, I kind of already did. I knew what the story was going in, so I knew what was up with this couple, and the group therapy and who the teenager was. If you didn’t know, maybe the whole thing wouldn’t seem so fluid. The thing I didn’t like though, was the final bit, like the epilogue. It fades out, and I thought it would end there, which I would initially dislike for its incompleteness, but then grow to appreciate, like a Raymond Carver short story (it did actually remind me of one, ‘A Small, Good Thing’). The film is like just an excerpt into their lives, giving it an actual ending makes it feel like the second half to the story.
It’s been a long time since Nicole Kidman has actually impressed me. We all know she can act, but while most great actresses often do something that makes people notice them again and again, Nicole doesn’t usually exceed expectations. Here, thankfully, she does. Its nothing to shower her with awards over, but its nice to be reminded why everything thinks she’s a good actress. Aaron Eckhart is brilliant. I haven’t seen much of his work, and never really thought much of him, but being able to have an argument (on screen) with Nicole Kidman when she’s that good, and still maintaining his screen presence is impressive stuff.
The film was beautiful and sad and honest, but I just wish they hadn’t given it the ending. I also like the title less now I know what it means. It brings focus to one particular part of the story, which was nice, but that much emphasis on it sort of takes away from the rest of the story, which is equally good.