Who’s In It: Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Miles Teller, Dianne Wiest, Sandra Oh, Tammy Blanchard, Jon Tenney, Giancarlo Esposito
The Basics: Months after the accidental death of their young child, Howie (Aaron Eckhart) and Becca Corbett (Nicole Kidman) are grieving in different ways. Howie seeks comfort in watching home videos of their son, Danny, and wants to give group therapy a shot; Becca, wracked with guilt, seeks to control her emotions but keeps lashing out in anger at those around her. Unable to mourn together, the two find solace in platonic friendships outside their marriage: Howie with a fellow group member (Sandra Oh) who’s also lost a child, and Becca with the remorseful teenager (Miles Teller) responsible for her son’s accident.
What’s The Deal: There’s a deep sadness permeating every moment of Rabbit Hole, an intimate domestic drama with a simple premise and characters who are anything but. Brought to life with raw hurt and emotion by stars Eckhart and Kidman and written deftly by screenwriter David Lindsay-Abaire (who adapted the script from his own Pulitzer-winning stage play), Howie and Becca become more than just characters in a film; their agony spills out with such feeling that it seeps off the screen, forcing the audience to not just sympathize, but to empathize with them as fully fleshed-out people stumbling their way through the gamut of tragedy-borne emotion. As a portrait of domestic grief, films don’t get much more devastating or realistic about loss as this; as affecting acting performances go, it’s a career highlight for Kidman.
From The Director Who Brought You Sardonic Transsexuals And Real Sex: John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Shortbus) tackles Lindsay-Abaire’s material with the knowing grace of a person driven by profound personal emotion and the daring of an artist unafraid to confront the most difficult of human experiences. The film simmers with unspoken currents of anguish and resentment and explodes in moments of pointed rage, but Mitchell manages the undulating emotional roller coaster, crafts a handsome picture of a perfect-on-the-outside upper middle class marriage, and draws memorable turns from all of his actors.
Best Supporting Mom Of 2010: Dianne Wiest provides some levity as Kidman’s mother, an eternally smiling grandma type who offers help and advice but nevertheless drives her kids nuts, as every mom is wont to do. Even with limited screen time the luminous Wiest makes her mark, revealing hidden depth and pain as she attempts to help the standoffish Kidman deal.
Keep Your Eye On: Miles Teller. The newcomer holds his own against Kidman and Eckhart in his film debut as the sensitive, perceptive teenager who's also profoundly changed by the tragic automobile accident that forever ties him to the Corbett family. Teller’s so new he doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page, but will be seen in next year’s Footloose and in the Todd Phillips-produced Project X.