Monday, August 15, 2011

"Rabbit Hole"

"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.


  1. I'm sorry that your family had to go through such loss. It's always upsetting to lose someone, and children are especially hard to let go of.

    Have you ever watched "Magnolia?" It's a very emotional film as well and, based on your other movie reviews, I think you'd like it.

  2. I'd heard of this film, but didn't have the chance to watch it. When I get netflix or the time to drop by a video rental place in the city, I'll definitely take a look.

    I'm so sorry that you and your family had to go through such a horrible loss. I am thankful to have never experienced this myself, but my heart breaks as I see child after child found dead and murdered as reported on the news. Such a freaking shame.

  3. Oh such a sad and tragic story about your cousin. It's hard to make sense of such loss, and people all have their own way to handle grief. I've worked in healthcare for years, and have observed the may different ways that folks cope with illness and death. I'm certainly going to add this to my queue, and have a look.

    Hugs to you Ally, you certainly have walked a difficult road.

  4. How very sad.
    I guess blaming someone is always a way to try and find a reason why events happened.

  5. I find it so tragic that parents who lose a child almost always split up, when they ought to be each others' pillar of support. It's a very dark side of human nature, the urge to blame someone else for things that are outside anyone's control. What a terrible tragedy for your family.

    The movie is actually in my Netflix queue already; glad to hear it's a good one.

  6. my greatest fear is something happening to my girls. i love them fiercely, and can't imagine losing one of them. that must've been so tragic for your Aunt and Uncle. something that is probably near impossible to recover from. thank you for sharing about your personal life and for sharing your thoughts on the movie.

  7. Oh I am so sorry for your family! This is really so sad. I have a hard time watching kids die in movies, I could not even fathom :(

  8. i wondered about that movie... i'll have to see it now. so sorry for your loss :(

    <3 mode.

  9. Hi Ally,

    As a mommy, I can't imagine losing a child. I've heard of many relationships not surviving such a tragedy. It is sad that we deal with our grief by lashing out at those closest to us and don't see how much pain they must be in. A close friend many years ago lost his son in a drowing incident and was tried for manslaughter, he said it was the most soul destroying event of his life, he adored his child and was dumbfounded when charged. He was cleared, but the scars ran deep.

    I will put this movie on my 'to see' list.


    p.s. Finally able to comment after almost a week of being sent backwards and forwards ;-)

  10. I saw it. Great acting but yes hard to watch. Anything happening to your child is any parent's worst nightmare. I used to never ever cry in movies until I had kids. Now even that insurance commercial of a dad seeing his 4 yr old little girl while in reality it is a college age girl brings tears to my eyes.
    I can see how a couple can not survive that loss. I don't know actually how you ever survive something like that. I am so sorry for your family.

  11. Sorry, part of my post seems to have gone awol - I'm sorry for your families loss.

  12. I've never heard of, or seen this movie. Like you say, it might be painful to watch, but definitely sounds worth it.

    So sorry that you have to relate personally to such a sad thing though. It doesn't seem right when people die young.


  13. You know, I cannot think of a single marriage in my circles in which a marriage managed to survive the loss of a child.

  14. That was such a sad story, especially for a 3 year old, and they are making a 10 year old drunk out of his mind. That could have been a dual tragedy one of alcohol poisoning. You are lucky.
    I am so sorry this happened to your family, and that even after all these years the memories linger...

  15. What an awful family tragedy. I can't even imagine how hard it must have been...
    Movies like that are really valuable - I will definitely watch it.

  16. Wow, a powerful post. Thank you for sharing. How humans cope with such traumatic and painful losses is more than what most of us can handle thinking about. But you're right -- art is cathartic, and so is blogging. It helps when eloquent writers such as yourself discuss what so many of us are incapable of expressing.

    It's very sad to hear about the tragic loss of your cousin. It's also sad to read about you experience as a 10-year-old.

  17. How terrible for your family. I really don't know how people can ever truly recover and move on from a tragedy like that... I've heard about this movie but can't even bring myself to watch it. I have a two year old and three year old niece and I just know I wouldn't be able to keep from putting them in the place of the child so I have chosen to skip this one...

    It's incredible the tragedies happening daily. My mother awoke to fire trucks and police vehicles and tape outside her door this morning. She lives on a large property on a country road in the Niagara Region where a 23 year old man wrapped his car around her tree and perished some time around 5 am... Pouf! Like that... he's gone.

  18. This is so sad, and too sad for anyone to have to go through, and yet it happens all the time.
    This brings to mind something that J.K. Rowling said about killing off characters in her books (and try not to see this as making light of the situation)and how the only way to learn to face death is to face death, which is really a terrible truth...