"Rabbit Hole" is a powerful movie that was released last year. It stars Nicole Kidman in one of the best performances of her career. She received an Oscar nomination for the role. Her husband in the film is portrayed by Aaron Eckhart, and two talented character-actors, Dianne Wiest and Sandra Oh, add depth to the cast.
The film is about a couple whose 4-year old boy was killed by a car. Such profound loss rocks people to their core. The movie studies how Nicole and Aaron's characters react to the tragedy. The writing is real; the acting is convincing; and the direction is skilled.
Art is ruminative. It considers human behavior, chews on it for a while, and then offers up insights and perspective. Art can help us make sense out of seeming absurdity. In an existential void, art teaches us how to find meaning and purpose.
The loss of a child is traumatic. For parents, outliving their children feels unnatural. The emotional force of the event is extreme and disorienting.
When I was ten, my three-year old cousin Eddie wandered away from his mother, fell into a newly-built in-ground swimming pool, and drowned. Eddie's death traumatized my family. Nobody could make sense of it; nobody had an explanation for the loss. I watched the adults in my family stagger around confused and dazed. Several of them drank heavily after hearing the news. At Eddie's funeral, we all left the church and went to a bar. My older cousin fed me drink after drink (we had bottles at our table) and I ended up drunk for the first time in my life. I didn't even know what intoxication was then; I couldn't understand, when I got up, why my legs were rubbery and collapsed.
Eddie's parents (my mother's sister and her husband) began arguing constantly. After a year or two, they broke up and divorced. Eddie's father never said it in public, but everyone believes he blamed my aunt for Eddie's death. He felt it was her fault for not watching Eddie closely enough and letting him get away, unsupervised, for the minutes it took to fall into a pool and drown.
"Rabbit Hole" is hard to watch but worth the effort. It teaches valuable lessons, subtly. You'll reflect on how humans can and can't handle serious loss. All of us, at some point, face sad events; it helps to ponder them intellectually before emotional shock overwhelms us.