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Toronto 2010: “Rabbit Hole,” Reviewed

Toronto 2010: “Rabbit Hole,” Reviewed (photo)

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Reviewed at the 2010 Toronto Film Festival.

“Rabbit Hole” feels more like the adaptation of a really great play that hasn’t been botched as opposed to it feeling like a really great movie, but that isn’t to take away from what John Cameron Mitchell has achieved with his take on David Lindsay-Abaire’s drama about a couple dealing with the fallout of the death of their young child.

Adapted for the screen by Lindsay-Abaire himself, the film stars Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart as Becca and Howie Corbett, eight months removed from the day their son Danny ran out into the street after the family’s dog and was hit by a passing car. Both have their different ways of grieving: Howie insists on going to group therapy where he befriends a fellow parent (Sandra Oh) while Becca finds her own unexpected way of coming to terms with the accident, suffocated by the ones closest to her, including her mother (Dianne Wiest) and her ne’er do well sister (Tammy Blanchard), who recently became pregnant.

Lindsay-Abaire won a Pulitzer for being delicate without being precious in depicting the pain and heartache of the Corbetts and it’s a remarkable showcase for actors, if done right. Kidman, whose finest hours have come when playing prickly protagonists, is particularly great as the passive-aggressive Becca, who has no idea where to place her anger, resulting in unpredictable outbursts at the slightest offenses. Eckhart’s Howie, meanwhile, is less moved to be the one who catches her when she falls, starting to drift away as he becomes uncertain about what his wife Becca actually wants.

Though it’s that uncertainty that drives the film — how a couple that once felt most intimate with each other suddenly feels disconnected — Mitchell has no such uncertainty as a director, providing a steady hand and an unadorned style to the proceedings. Of course, this is a departure from Mitchell’s previous films “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and “Shortbus,” and if anything, he provokes here by stepping back, allowing Kidman and Eckhart to go uncomfortable places; in one particularly noteworthy scene, a squabble between Becca and Howie that is often a hallmark of the third act of dramas such as these arrives mid-film and is shot nakedly by cinematographer Frank DeMarco, dropping conventional composition, as if to let the scene pass by without comment.

Somehow, Mitchell retains the raw energy of a stage performance without ever descending into a film that is always reminding its audience it began life as a play. (Some credit is likely due to the fact Mitchell apparently spent a year editing “Rabbit Hole.”) It doesn’t hinge on a revenge plot a la “In the Bedroom” or fall into the trap of turning into a shouting match between angry spouses, instead acknowledging the mystery of sorrow and letting Kidman and Eckhart play all its nuances as the process of letting go becomes a burden as great as losing a child in the first place. As a result, the drama may be less pronounced, but the emotions are no less complex, creating a film that’s quietly devastating and elegant in its understatement.

“Rabbit Hole” was picked up by Lionsgate, who will distribute later this year. It will play once more in Toronto on September 18th.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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