Nicole Kidman in "Rabbit Hole": Oscar Contender?

| by Hollywood Elsewhere

I caught John Cameron Mitchell's Rabbit Hole (Lionsgate, 12.17) for the second time this evening. It hasn't diminished a bit since I saw it at the Toronto Film Festival; if anything, it's gained. It's a sad and honest and fully engaged thing, and never the least bit boring. It has no weak scenes -- each is gamey and steady and true, and adds another layer to a whole that becomes more and more intriguing as it goes along. Really -- this is not Oscar bloggie blather.

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Every actor in the cast nails it with verve and snap, but especially Nicole Kidman, Dianne Wiest, Aaron Eckhart and (in his motion picture debut) Miles Teller.

I take it back about Rabbit Hole being an A-minus -- I'm now calling it a solid A, and I still have no doubt about its ability to penetrate as a Best Picture contender down the road. I'm not just "saying" this. It really is a keeper; it holds itself together and deepens the game and spreads out and in on a step-by-step basis.

Kidman, Weist, Eckhart and Teller joined Mitchell and moderator Eugene Hernandez for a chat following tonight's screening at the Tribeca Cinemas. Also participating were production designer Kalina Ivanov and a gentleman who may well have been one of the producers. (I'll get his name from someone on Wednesday morning -- sorry.)

Rabbit Hole is a restrained/contained middle-class grief drama in the vein of Ordinary People and In The Bedroom (i.e., dead son). David Lindsay-Abaire's screenplay (based on his play) never lays it on too thick, but doesn't hold back too much either. It's a process drama about keeping the trauma buried or at least suppressed, and about how it comes out anyway -- a little hostility here and there, odd alliances and connections, a little hash smoking (a la American Beauty), stabs at organized grief therapy, questions of whether to keep or get rid of the son's toys.

It finally explodes in a bracing argument scene between Kidman and Eckhart, and then it subsides again and comes back and loop-dee-loops and finally settles down into a kind of acceptance between them. Not a peace treaty as much as an understanding that overt hostilities will cease.

A few people applauded at the end of the TIFF press screening that I attended. They also applauded big-time this evening. This is a very well honed, entirely respectable, honestly affecting drama. There's no doubting and disengaging from any of it.

The Rabbit Hole gang during post-screening discussion at Tribeca Cinemas -- Tuesday, 11.16, 9:35 pm -- (l. to r.) moderator Eugene Hernandez, director John Cameron Mitchell, Aaron Eckhart, Nicole Kidman, Dianne Wiest, screenwriter David Lindsay-Abaire.

Higher-resolution video: