Rabbit Hole (USA, 2010, John Cameron Mitchell)
Monica saw a production of the play in Vancouver. She feels the playwright-come-screenwriter did a good job of switching from saying-on-stage to showing-on-screen. The decrease in dialogue and increase in action also entailed moving off the set inside of the house and into the wider world. The big change resulting from this resides with the character of the adolescent driver.
In the play, he comes to the house of his own accord, obviously seeking forgiveness but himself not quite in touch with this need. Considerable drama has do do with this need becoming obvious to him and, of course, with the parents struggling to absolve him of blame; just as they must do this for themselves, each other, the dog and God. Clearly, the film gets into all of this as well. But it is considerably more contrived in the plot how contact is made with the driver and it is dramatically reversed insofar as it is the mother and not the driver who initiates the contact.
I find this difference between the play and the movie interesting because, for me, the character of the driver and the mother's relationship with him was the most engaging aspect of the film. The actor playing the young man was well cast and brought more than just an appropriately understated performance to the part. The guy has a certain quality I can't describe that really worked for me. I like Nicole Kidman and she delivers here. But it was the pathos coming off the teenager that raised the bar for me. Again, I don't know what it is about him that makes me feel this way... or could it just be that he is far from handsome?
I point to the power of the homely when it comes to tragedy (or comedy, for that matter) because Aaron Eckhart as the father was very problematic for me in the heaviest scenes. His Ken (as in Barbie and Ken) quality undermined his interaction with Kidman. On the screen doing his own thing, not too bad at all, but the two of them together did not have grief chemistry, as it were, and I find the fault on his side. Be this as it may, there was something just a bit too yuppie-perfect about the couple that did not crack as it should have under the pressure. I am not cynically complaining about them staying together. The hopeful reconciliation at the end is fine by me. What I'm saying is that the strain in the marriage due to the death of the child never reached down into the deepest depths of despair. The darkness in Rabbit Hole is actually lite.
I could expend some effort substantiating my view that the socio-economic signals and sex appeals in the movie render the protagonists too happy in general to be unhappy in particular, but I was not moved enough by the film to bother with this now. Suffice to finish here by mentioning that the film shamelessly imports a religious sensibility under cover of scientific open-mindedness. When the radically atheist mother ultimately embraces the multiverse hypothesis of the boy's "Rabbit Hole" comic book, the message is so much about the transmigration of souls.