As a parent and grandparent, I was very hesitant to watch Rabbit Hole because I knew that it focused on parents who were dealing with the death of their child. After much encouragement from my wife Lauren, and one of our community members (Mark), and with the tragedy in Tucson in the background, we watched the film last night and were absolutely mesmerized.
As a film, the challenge of Rabbit Hole is akin to making the perfect souffle and not letting it fall apart or to performing a high wire act between two skyscrapers without a net. How do you make a film about the most tragic loss any adult can possible imagine and nevertheless inject it with so much love, humanity, humor, and hope that it transcends its challenges and becomes a healing experience? How do you do that? Just ask the film’s young, brilliant director John Cameron Mitchell, its screenwriter David Lindsay-Abaire (brilliantly adapting his own Tony and Pulitzer Award winning play), and stars Nicole Kidman (who also produced the film), Aaron Eckhardt, Dianne Wiest, and a remarkable young actor named Miles Teller. Together, they have created nothing less than a miracle of a film that is not only enthralling and deeply moving but that also will always be available as a beacon of hope and healing to people who have suffered such a tragic loss or who have friends and family members who are dealing with that almost incomprehensible challenge.
In the aftermath of the tragic events in Tucson last Saturday, the film takes on so much more added poignance when one considers that the parents of 9 year old Christina Green are now beginning their own experience of the loss of their precious daughter. Ms. Kidman and Mr. Eckhardt play the parents in Rabbit Hole with so much raw emotion and vulnerability that my own mind kept drifting to Chrstina Green’s parents as the film delved into every emotion that grieving parents face, from the challenges in their marriage, to their relationship with each other, to their friends and other family members (most particularly Ms. Wiest whose performance as Ms. Kidman’s mother is so loving and human that it almost defies description), and most searingly, to their moments alone with their personal grief and anger.
When a film comes along that is as brilliant, humane, and ultimately hopeful as Rabbit Hole, it reminds me again of the beauty, dignity, and love that a special film can bring into our lives. I can only hope that those responsible for the making of Rabbit Hole sleep well in the knowledge that they have created a lasting monument to the best and most courageous aspects of our humanity. As such, they deserve our love, respect, and eternal gratitude for making a film that elevates the fragile art form of film making into a state of grace.