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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

August 23, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Accent

Good acting saves sparse tale of grief

The journey down this “Rabbit Hole” is a difficult one, but the skill of the players makes it worthwhile.

The film about the daily struggles of two parents grappling with the accidental death of their infant son is limited by the very story it tells. Though the awful obstacles the characters must face take place before the film starts, its minimalist direction lets the strong yet subdued acting shine through, saving the movie from falling flat like its plot.

Director John Cameron Mitchell establishes a reflective tone using muted colors throughout the film. Also, cinematographer Frank G. DeMarco’s use of stationary camera shots that centrally frame the actors is restrained, allowing the focus to remain on them instead of the sparse story.

Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie (Aaron Eckhart) give two powerful performances as grieving parents. Becca’s attempts to push her feelings aside manifest themselves in her tightly wound, precise movements. Eckhart shows Howie’s grief in his unchanging morose expression, even when he tries group therapy.

While “Rabbit Hole” hangs on the edge of boredom — simplifying the pair’s struggle with a plot that lacks any real substance despite having such heavy subject matter —Kidman and Eckhart’s on-screen interaction brings the characters and the film back to life.

“Rabbit Hole” was written by David Lindsay-Abaire and directed by John Cameron Mitchell.

3 out of 4 stars