Blu-Ray Review: Raw Emotion of ‘Rabbit Hole’ Separates it From Standard Melodrama

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CHICAGO – We weren’t kind enough to “Rabbit Hole.” Sometimes it takes years to realize when a film has fallen under the critical radar. Sometimes it’s only a few months. With the press assault for films like “Black Swan,” “True Grit,” and “The King’s Speech,” one of the absolute best films of 2010 fell under the radar. Sure, it got a few nominations, including an Oscar nod for the career-best work by Nicole Kidman, but it should have been more, including more top tens (I wish I had put it on mine) and should have been nominated for, at least, Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Catch up with it on Blu-ray and DVD now. Blu-Ray Rating: 4.5/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 4.5/5.0

I think perhaps that we didn’t appreciate “Rabbit Hole” enough because it comes from a genre so weighed down by melodramatic junk. We’ve seen so many manipulative soap operas about dead children that our guards are up every time another one appears. So when something so pure, genuine, and emotionally devastating as “Rabbit Hole” comes along, it can take a few months to fully sink in. This is emotion without artifice and it’s handled in such a subtle, perfect way that its impact is lasting. I still think about “Rabbit Hole” and I’ve seen over a hundred films since I first saw it. I think it will be on my mind for some time.

Rabbit Hole was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on April 19, 2011
Rabbit Hole was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on April 19, 2011
Photo credit: Lionsgate Home Video

Nicole Kidman delivers in every way as Becca, a woman who lost her son a decent amount of time before the action of “Rabbit Hole.” With her husband Howie (the always-underrated Aaron Eckhart), the two are dealing with that period of grief in which there are no clear answers to questions that none of us want to answer. When do you take your child’s drawings off the fridge? When do you sell the house? When do you stop going to grief counseling? While these issues hang in the air and threaten to break up their marriage, Howie finds himself drawn to another woman (Sandra Oh) while Becca tries to speak to the young man (Miles Teller) who changed her life forever. Tammy Blanchard and Dianne Wiest co-star as Becca’s sister and mother, respectively.

Rabbit Hole was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on April 19, 2011
Rabbit Hole was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on April 19, 2011
Photo credit: Lionsgate Home Video

The ensemble of “Rabbit Hole” is flawless, but perhaps what I admire the most is the restraint of David Lindsay-Abaire’s remarkable screenplay and John Cameron Mitchell’s simple direction. This is a tight (92 minutes), trim, perfect piece of drama — a film that gives the viewer no easy answers but presents them with flawed, believable characters with which to either identify or thank a higher power they don’t have to do so. Mitchell knew the film’s script and actors were the key to the success and he remains very passive, almost shooting the piece like a fly on the wall, allowing us into these intimate moments without the flash that one might have expected from the director “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.”

And then there’s the acting. I’ve written several times about Kidman and Wiest’s work here — both deserved consideration for the Oscar by everyone who had voting power — but Eckhart, Teller, and even Blanchard deserve praise as well. The ensemble was one of the best of 2010. Devastatingly good.

“Rabbit Hole” will outlast several of the most acclaimed films of 2010, including the one that won Best Picture, but there’s something “right” about the fact that people will find this beautiful work of art over time. It’s not flashy. It’s not headline-grabbing. But you will never forget it.

Special Features:
o Audio Commentary with the Director, Writer, and Director of Photography
o Deleted Scenes
o Theatrical Trailer

“Rabbit Hole” stars Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Dianne Wiest, Tammy Blanchard, Sandra Oh, and Miles Teller. It was written by David Lindsay-Abaire and directed by John Cameron Mitchell. It was released on Blu-ray and DVD on April 19th, 2011 and is rated R. content director Brian Tallerico

Content Director

Josh's picture

completely agree

it’s a shame how caught up we can get with award-hype and it’s rather hard to realize what the true gems are when every single magazine is constantly talking about ballet-training and royal stuttering (not bashing those films, just the sensationalist media)… A part of me is glad that this didn’t become an award front-runner probably because the film hits you in such a personal and profound way that it makes it a bit weird to share such emotions…

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