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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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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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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

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