I'm not entirely certain that I should recommend Rabbit Hole.
It depends how unnerved you were by the murder of 9-year-old Christina Taylor Greene during the recent shooting rampage in Tucson, Ariz. It depends how you reacted to the sight of her tiny wooden coffin.
It depends if you've experienced the loss of a child.
It may simply depend if you're a parent, although there is nothing simple about that.
When I first saw Rabbit Hole in 2007 on Broadway (the Pulitzer Prize winner starred Cynthia Nixon and John Slattery), it left me unnerved and out of sorts. When I attended the world premiere last September at the Toronto International Film Festival, I was sadder still, which caught me off-guard given the fact that I knew exactly what was in store. Audience members were openly weeping.
So how can I recommend this to everyone? I can't. But if your emotional armor allows you to approach a very adult drama about the loss of a child, Rabbit Hole is not to be missed. It never lacks grace or feels exploitative.
As the producer of Rabbit Hole, Nicole Kidman has a lot to do with the film's critical success. She's also the star. While in Toronto, I asked Kidman if she heard the audience sobbing during the screening. She did.
"I'm feeling very exposed and very nervous," the Oscar winner half-whispered. "Life can be beautiful, but at the other end of the spectrum it can be painful. This was a hard film for me, particularly as a mother."
Kidman plays Becca and Aaron Eckhart plays her husband Howie. Their 4-year-old son is killed in a traffic accident, but the movie is not about how he died, but rather how they go on living.
While Becca and Howie sleepwalk through their grief, the world keeps spinning: Babies are born, children play in the park, and kids become young adults. When Becca and Howie are alone, their once-vibrant Victorian home becomes a museum of sorrow.
Sandra Oh, Dianne Wiest and Miles Teller co-star. Teller, in a breakthrough performance, portrays a quiet teen forging a complicated and sorrowful link to the couple's loss.
Rabbit Hole is nothing like previous films with similar themes--everything from Ordinary People down to the Lifetime Channel have drilled in this mine before. Here instead is empathy and emotional intellect without laying blame. But I still don't know if I should recommend it. If you're just not ready yet to watch, please don't. When you are ready, Rabbit Hole will be waiting for you.