Thursday, 9 June 2011

Rabbit Hole ★★★☆☆

Cinema has always unashamedly drawn its inspiration from any form of narrative it can get its grubby mitts on. Unless nailed to the ground everything imaginable has by now had the cinematic treatment, from historical epics, which, remain little factual information of the events they portray, to adaptations of much loved literary classics that, more often than not, fail to capture the true essence of the source material in an attempt to condense everything into a sellable two hour narrative. Recently there has been a trend for a mirroring of this cultured musing between cinema and theatre. We’ve recently had stage versions of big screen favourites such as Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Ghost and the Lion King (to name but a few) whilst cinema, particularly American Independent cinema, has looked towards critically  popular west end shows for moving character dramas to recreate and sell to a larger audience. Yet whilst watching a painstakingly, multi levelled film stripped down to its core in an attempt to capture it’s inner magic, purely being held together vitally by strong acting and pragmatic direction, can no doubt be a fascinating procedure to witness firsthand, the same cannot always be said for reversing the treatment.
Rabbit Hole is a screen adaptation of the eponymous play by David Lindsay-Abaire. Starring Aaron Eckhart and Nicole Kidman as a fraught couple haunted by the loss of their only child, it acts as an insightful character study into the devastating effects of a child’s death to a middle-aged successful married couple.
Whilst the acting on show is as poignant and evocative as you’d expect from such stalwarts of the medium (indeed roles that left in lesser hands would’ve ultimately culminated in something not too dissimilar from a lifetime movie on some no name satellite channel, lost amongst all the BBC re-runs and documentaries about sharks) the feeling that what your viewing is little more than a screen version of a play is hard to escape. Whilst this isn’t aimed as a vicious criticism towards what is a very well constructed drama, the overriding feeling that it’s just a few flashes of brilliance away from being a wonderfully powerful film that could be enjoyed by a much wider audience. Unfortunately it leaves Rabbit Hole feeling disappointingly forgettable and sadly left to dwell in the no-man’s land of viewing enjoyment - a fate which the performances of Eckhart and Kidman don’t deserve.
For fans of immersive character acting and well constructed narrative Rabbit Hole will no doubt come across as an unquestionable tour-de-force. However, for those who demand a little more from their viewing, particularly an added element of cinematic visual immersion that couldn’t otherwise be achieved on a stage, Rabbit Hole will feel little more than long winded cautionary tale on the effecting issues of loss.  

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