Friday, December 31, 2010

Rabbit Hole

Through cinematic rearrangements, visualizations, and updates, "Rabbit Hole," a very good play by David Lindsay-Abaire, is made into a botched adaptation by the very same individual. It's filled with a ton of clutter, of which the play was gladly free. Plus, some details about the characters are lost or lessened. I know from attending the film with people who hadn't read the stage version that there's a good chance it will play better with those unfamiliar with the original. However, there also may be some who find the film the same as I did: a slog in a way other than that which it was intended to be, though admittedly I was less keen than usual on letting myself be engaged.

The film starts off with Becca (Nicole Kidman) gardening and turning down the offer of her neighbor to go to dinner. Significantly, the neighbor steps on the flower she spent time planting. At this moment, we can see the fraying of something, which will come to be revealed: Becca and her husband Howie (Aaron Eckhart) are weathering the loss of their child, who's been gone for eight months, hit by a car when following the family dog into the street. (This is an elephant that hangs over every scene at least in the play; in the film it's most scenes.)

They attend group meetings for people who've lost children, and are not really helped (Becca hates them and quits; Howie just goes). They are also not especially helped by the fact that Becca's reckless sister (Tammy Blanchard) is having a baby or how Becca's mother (Dianne Wiest) incessantly wants to give them support (and how she keeps recalling the death of Becca's brother). And then there's that kid that Becca keeps following home from school, who turns out to be Jason (Miles Teller), the guy who drove the car in the accident with their son. (I wish that Lindsay-Abaire had followed the arc from the play instead of making Becca into essentially a stalker. The relationship between the two was much better handled before.)

The film is mediocrely put together. It's not that well directed (John Cameron Mitchell, making a film that's seen as a departure for him) or edited (Joe Klotz) and it has a score (by Anton Sanko) that messes with the mood many times, despite its solidity. The performances are decent from everyone, with some nice moments drawn by Mitchell, but Eckhart, in one scene, is laughably over-the-top in his "anger." Many people have snapped this movie up; I recommend instead skipping the movie and perusing the far superior play. C

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