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Cinema visit: Rabbit Hole

The story takes place 8 months after the main characters have lost their young son to a road accident and is a snapshot of some of the ways they react to their grief. It featured both marvellous performances and also very nicely written character portraits. I particularly loved that Kidman's background was no more than hinted at in her having had a brother who died of a heroin overdose, in her telling her mother that her (dead or absent) father was “a controlling prick” - and in the comment between Kidman and her sister that raising children can't be too hard a job if their mother managed it. A lovely example of showing rather than telling that illustrates well the subtle style of the film overall; I love that style of story-telling.

The focus was both on the characters and the relationships between them – Nicole Kidman and her husband Aaron Eckhart, Eckhart's coming close to having an affair, Kidman and her mother Dianne Wiest and also Kidman and the young driver who caused their son's death. It's the kind of film where describing any of the above seems to undermine the subtlety and delicacy of both writing and acting so I'll refrain from same and simply comment on the excellence of all of the above.

However, the final result was just a little lacking, to my taste. I do mean a little – my issue is that the quality of the component parts of this film should have resulted in a truly excellent film as opposed to the rather good one it ended up being. I've been thinking about what could have been done differently.

If I have one specific complaint, it would be a fairly small one to do with balance and pacing. For example, the notion of being comforted by the idea of parallel worlds where everything is OK gave the film its title and was then discreetly left to one side in a manner which was admirably light-handed. I liked that subtlety of leaving an interesting idea lying about for the audience to make of what they would without belabouring the point, but I think it could have done with being just a little more central to the film in terms of screentime. Not by much, just a fraction more emphasis would have achieved balance, as I say.

Alternatively, the balance could have been shifted by altering the centre of the story a fraction; I would have liked to have seen more interaction between the various characters. Again, I'm not suggesting a huge change since their isolation from each other was part of the point, but a lot of the film did consist of long shots of individual characters alone with their thoughts and it is a little hard to maintain pacing with that approach. Also, the scenes between Kidman and Wiest, and Kidman and Eckhart were the highlights of the film and it would have been good to see more of that.

On the whole, not a film that could be called enjoyable given its subject matter – but a very good one nonetheless.

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Missing Opossum

April 2012

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