Becca and Howie Corbett's four-year-old son Danny is killed in a car accident after he runs out into the street after his dog. Becca wants to give away Danny's clothes, remove Danny's things, and sell their house, but Howie is angry at Becca's elimination of anything that reminds them of their child. Howie also wants to have another child with Becca, but she refuses.
Becca's mother, Nat, has also lost a son, Becca's brother, who died of a drug overdose. Becca states the two deaths are not comparable but eventually realizes their grief is the same in that it will never stop. Becca's sister, Izzy, is pregnant, and Becca keeps giving Izzy advice about becoming a mother, which Izzy resents.
Becca and Howie attend a self-help group, but Becca is irritated by some members of the group, particularly by one couple who attribute their child's death to God's will. Howie continues to attend the meetings without Becca and he and long-time member Gabby start smoking pot in her car before the meetings. They almost begin an affair. However, Howie backs out of it stating he is in love with his wife.
Meanwhile, Becca starts meeting with Jason, the teenaged driver of the car that hit Danny. She discovers he feels guilty and tells him she does not blame him for the accident. Jason tells her about a comic book he is writing called "Rabbit Hole", which is about parallel universes. He brings the book to her at home and as he gives it to Becca, Howie realises who he is and that Becca has been meeting him in secret. Howie is distressed at this revelation and demands that Jason leave immediately. Jason complies but is distraught by Howie's reaction.
Howie and Becca begin to have new activities, such as bowling and playing games and they start to accept their son's death.
Howie and Becca decide to have a garden lunch. The scene begins with Howie telling Becca how the lunch would take place, while simultaneously the screen fades into the lunch as Howie continues to speak in the background. The film ends with Becca and Howie sitting in their garden alone after all their guests have left staring into space. Becca reaches out to Howie and touches his hand. They hold hands affectionately as they continue to sit and stare into space.Nicole Kidman as Becca Corbett
Aaron Eckhart as Howie Corbett
Dianne Wiest as Nat, Becca's mother
Miles Teller as Jason, the driver
Tammy Blanchard as Izzy, Becca's sister
Sandra Oh as Gabby
Patricia Kalember as Peg
Mike Doyle as Craig
Jon Tenney as Rick
Stephen Mailer as Kevin
Giancarlo Esposito as Auggie
Rob Campbell as Bob
Rabbit Hole was filmed primarily in the Bayside neighborhood of the borough of Queens, New York City. The $3.2 million production had a 28-day shoot.
Due to a scheduling conflict, Kidman declined a role in Woody Allen's You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, in favor of this film. In a 2014 interview on The Howard Stern Show, Eckhart claimed to have researched his role by pretending to have lost a child in a support group.
Owen Pallett was initially scheduled to compose the score, but then Abel Korzeniowski was announced. Ultimately, the position went to Anton Sanko.
Rabbit Hole premiered at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival in September 2010, then played at three other film festivals (Mill Valley Film Festival in October, and both Denver Film Festival, and Rome Film Festival in November). The film opened in Canada and the United States in December 17, 2010 in a limited release in 5 theaters and grossed $53,778 averaging $10,756 per theater and ranking 38th at the box office. The widest release domestically for the film was 131 theaters and it ended up earning $2,229,058 in the U.S. and $2,914,096 internationally for a total of $5,143,154.
Rabbit Hole received positive reviews and has a rating of 86% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 189 reviews with an average score of 7.6 out of 10. The consensus states "It's often painful to watch, but Rabbit Hole's finely written script and convincing performances make it worth the effort." The film also has a score of 76 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 39 reviews.
Festival and other advance showings of the film garnered good reviews, particularly for Kidman and Wiest. The film received a standing ovation at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival. Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter said, "Kidman grabs the central focus of the story as the more distraught of the two. The performance is riveting because she essentially plays the entire film at two levels, the surface everyday life and then what is turning over and over again in her mind." Peter Debruge of Variety found it "a refreshingly positive-minded take on cinema's ultimate downer: overcoming the death of a child", and called it "[a]adroitly expanded" from the stage play, "with Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart delivering expert, understated performances". Roger Ebert gave it 3.5 stars out of 4, calling it "... entertaining and surprisingly amusing, under the circumstances. The film is in a better state of mind than its characters. Its humor comes, as the best humor does, from an acute observation of human nature. We have known people something like this. We smile in recognition. Apart from anything else, "Rabbit Hole" is a technical challenge. It is simple enough to cover the events in the story, not so simple to modulate them for humor and even warmth. I knew what the movie would be about, but I was impressed by how it was about it." Richard Corliss of Time magazine named it one of the Top 10 Movies of 2010.
The play has a cast of five roles, while a few other characters such as Gabby are only mentioned in dialogue. In contrast, the film has a cast of over a dozen actors. While the entire play takes place in the home of Becca and Howie, the film has a variety of locations. Past incidents, such as Becca's bad experience in the grief support group, are referred to in the play's dialogue but are depicted on screen in the film. The videos that Howie obsesses over are actually seen in the film, though not in the play. The two subplots of Howie's relationship with a woman from the grief support group and Becca's relationship with Jason, the driver of the car that hit Danny, have both been expanded. The film also adds new characters who do not appear in the play: sister Izzy's boyfriend and Howie's best friend.
Jason is an aspiring science fiction story writer in the play, but an aspiring comic book artist in the film.
In the opinion of critic Jim Lane, the film is more focused on the husband and wife and less of an ensemble piece. Lane writes
On stage, Rabbit Hole is a tightly focused five-character drama punctuated with sharp, surprising flashes of aching humor. In the movie, however, supporting roles are trimmed into near irrelevance, elbowed into the background by the spotlight focused on Becca and Howie—or, more bluntly, on Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart. Here’s what David Lindsay-Abaire seems not to understand about his own play: It’s like an atom in which the five characters are electrons revolving around the missing nucleus that was Danny.... Without their nucleus, these electrons wobble and flail in their orbits, by turns clutching at and repelling one another.... In the movie, Rabbit Hole’s symmetrical stage design is torn between the age-old pitfall of “opening up” a play and the Hollywood urge to focus on Kidman and Eckhart (who are, after all, the stars).....The movie orbits Becca and Howie instead of the lost Danny.
The director of a 2010 stage production of Rabbit Hole, Robert A. Norman, declared, "The 2010 movie version starring Nicole Kidman lacked the humor and hopefulness of the stage script. Our production will have plenty of both of those things." However, Abaire, who wrote both the stage play and screenplay, believes, "For the film, we cut so much that worked in the play that I worried we had cut all the laughs. But there were all these other laughs I didn't know were there."Wins
Denver Film Festival Excellence in Acting Awards – Aaron Eckhart
Heartland Film Festival Truly Moving Picture Award – Nicole Kidman and Per Saari
Academy Award for Best Actress – Nicole Kidman
Alliance of Women Film Journalists Award for Best Actress – Nicole Kidman
Alliance of Women Film Journalists Award for Best Adapted Screenplay – David Lindsay-Abaire
Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress – Nicole Kidman
Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Screenplay – David Lindsay-Abaire
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress – Nicole Kidman
Detroit Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress – Nicole Kidman
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama – Nicole Kidman
Houston Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress – Nicole Kidman
Independent Spirit Award for Best Director – John Cameron Mitchell
Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead – Nicole Kidman
Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead – Aaron Eckhart
Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay – David Lindsay-Abaire
Italian Online Movie Award for Best Actress – Nicole Kidman
Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress – Nicole Kidman
Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress – Nicole Kidman
San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor – Aaron Eckhart
Satellite Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama – Nicole Kidman
Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture – Dianne Wiest
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role – Motion Picture – Nicole Kidman
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress – Nicole Kidman
Utah Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress – Nicole Kidman
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress – Nicole Kidman