Grieving Tastefully in "Rabbit Hole"

John Cameron Mitchell's Rabbit Hole plops us down in the lives of Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie (Aaron Eckhart), 40-ish upper-class marrieds rattling around an East Coast dream house. Becca and Howie's young son was killed in an accident, and months later, the couple is trying to cope. Howie thinks they can do this through weekly group therapy sessions. Becca eventually opts out, and with the wife away, Howie starts getting close to Gaby (Sandra Oh), whose spouse is also absentee. Meanwhile, Becca starts stalking the 17-year-old who was driving the car that killed her son. Becca and Howie's extracurricular activities are the saving grace of a movie that's otherwise a sledgehammer of plot and score. These weird, chaste-but-intimate courtships truly resemble the "How'd that happen?" bad-idea relationships that so often spring from trauma in real life. Not so true to life: the montage that explains how both relationships resolve, with major decision points coming for both Becca and Howie at virtually the same time. With films like Shortbus and Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Mitchell made a name for himself telling stories that encourage the exploration of subversive desire; Rabbit Hole acknowledges such desires only to ultimately suggest they're better left repressed. Which might be fine, but here the proceedings are so lifeless that you find yourself rooting for the narrative to fully tread into the disaster zones with which it flirts. Rabbit Hole's tastefulness just punishes its characters, and audience, even further.

 
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