David Lindsay-Abaire elevated grief porn to high art and took home a Pulitzer for his play about a couple working through the loss of their son, killed by a teen driver in a simple car accident. The film version never fully explains that Pulitzer; it’s satisfying, but nothing more. We’re introduced to Becca (Kidman) as she weeds her gorgeous suburban garden with the sort of cool precision that only Kidman can carry off. She’s like a bottomless well of cold water in which a howling beast lurks. Her husband Howie (Eckhart, blessedly given a chance to play a guy who isn’t a prick) is more open in his grief, dragging her along to support group meetings that she very nearly sneers at.
After Becca bails on group, Howie starts a dangerous flirtation/friendship with another grieving parent (Oh). Becca, meanwhile, starts meeting Jason (Teller), the teen who killed Becca and Howie’s son eight months earlier. She finds strange comfort in talking to him about his life while her own life is in suspended animation.
The actors are all wonderful here, and Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Shortbus), displays cool reserve that actually makes the emotional moments more painful and real (Eckhart has one raging outburst that is honestly frightening). Yet for all it’s precise delineation of the details, Rabbit Hole left me with little new insight into how grief works.