Often when a stageplay is translated into a movie, there are certain nuances and quirks that can’t be conveyed. The film has the ability to better explain small details through the use of various scene settings, lighting and production that a stage play doesn’t capture. However, the character inflections, the capacity to interact with the stage and the ability for the theater to create a deeper cathartic moment tends to make stage plays more appealing. David Lindsay Abaire’s Rabbit Hole won the Pulitzer in 2007. It was turned into a film, that he was able to write, in 2010 featuring Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart.
Watching Rabbit Hole is an uncomfortable interest. Once you realize what is occuring, when you move past the literary references to Stoppard in the dialogue and you stop admiring the visual presentation, you come to the realization that Abaire is forcing you to deal with something that no one wants to ever consider or discuss. The ability to relay a story of a couple that has to deal with a death (no spoilers) is a difficult job. However the script is so delicately drawn, yet forcefully delivered by the actors who play their parts so well, that watching at times creates the type of peripeteia for the viewer that turns us into the victim, but also turns us into the critic. How does a person deal with death? How should a marriage carry on after tragedy? Is the natural reaction to conflict to run away? Is running away the way to deal with it? Should I cheat because fulfillment at home is difficult to attain after a tragedy? Is sex a means to pacifying a relationship, or mending the fence?
The first allusion to Rabbit Hole that is considered is Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland which should not be the case. The Rabbit Hole in the film actually relates to a comic drawn by a young man who has been given the ultimate burden. Jason (Miles Teller) is a young man who makes a mistake that shapes his life and the main characters lives, Kidman and Eckhart (Becca and Howie). The amazing subtext of the story is the relationship that forms between Jason and Becca, although this same relationship will never take place between Howie and Jason. In writing and showing how Jason is moving towards his catharsis by creating the comic Rabbit Hole, the explanation of the comic and it’s basis in parallel universes lends itself to the hope that somewhere out there, “the other you is having fun.”
While the movie has a darkness, there are some fantastic comedic moments that happen at moments of clarity for the characters. In the Pot Smoking Scene at the therapy session one of the best comedic acting jobs I’ve seen happens with Sandra Oh’s character Gaby and Howie. This scene is at once liberating, and immediately reversed with the sobering cut to Howie’s return to the house where his high is blown and all of the problems come crashing down all over again.
Rabbit Hole may be the best adaptation of a stage play into film that I’ve watched. I highly recommend the film.
This film was rented through Netflix.