Saturday, February 26, 2011

rabbit hole ...the way i saw the movie

The movie Rabbit hole was something i was contemplating watching but didn't plan doing so, as i always get lazy at the last moment . Movies are not on my list and the reasons are many .

So when a friend ( Dear IHM ) asked me to go together it sounded like a great idea , what else do you want for a good movie ? Good company. And this time the company was so very apt. Both of us wanted ( read needed ) a slice of this artfully done story .

I am writing what i saw in the movie , my story of a 90 minute film has become so very long , because i liked a few things and wanted to share all of them here.... read it if you have time...or interest.

The movie starts with Becca mixing manure in her garden and planting purple Salvia in the flower beds . Purple Salvia in full bloom . A neighbor comes to invite her for something and Becca is making excuses , the neighbor steps over a plant , crushing the purple blooms and Becca's expressions lead the neighbor's gaze to her own feet , crushing the Salvia bloom under the shoes... She apologizes and quickly retreats .... that is when i thought that Becca will come back to the crushed bloom and will take it in her hands like i do..... I knew it then that the story and the director of the movie had something to tell I would connect to...... and Becca does come to the crushed Salvia bloom and lifts the flowers exactly the way I saw it .....

Yes , it is an artfully done story of a grieving family . The first scene has a lovely chirp of birds giving a feeling of serenity .... i knew the movie will not be depressing . Wet eyes cannot be ruled out still .

Becca and Howie have lost their 4 year old son in a freaky road accident across the street from their own home. The kid was chasing the family dog when a car hits him , the car driven by another kid , a teenager. Jason.

As the things go after such a tragedy , Becca is irritable with her mother and her sister , her husband too. She tries to find refuge in her garden and her kitchen . Watching her working in the garden and the kitchen was something i could so blindly relate to.....One day she spots Jason , sitting on the window seat of his school bus , she follows him and comes to know that the boy is reading a book on 'Parallel universe' . Becca is following Jason impulsively and when Jason comes one day to ask her what she wants....they talk . Jason confesses that the accident could have been averted if ..... okay...Becca says very calmly that it's okay .... this is a park scene and the chirping of birds makes it more impactful...Becca is very very calm with Jason , while with others she is irritable and reacts impulsively. She is trying to address an unresolved issue in her mind ... she thinks Jason is responsible for the accident but when she sees that even Jason is traumatized due the accident , her motherly side become protective towards him.... wants to see how he thinks in life......Kind of moves towards coping with the tragedy together........and later is convinced by his ideas of a parallel universe ........her grief finds a new perspective.

While Becca is struggling with her own uncertain behavior , she looks quite normal otherwise and that makes everything so tough . I can so well understand how the things becomes so much more difficult when you look normal to the world around you , everybody kinda forgets that there is something very raw and throbbing just beneath the thin sheen of smile. Howie keeps watching the video of his son on his phone and finds refuge in this activity when he is home , both husband and wife are trapped into a drift ...finding refuge from their common grief into different things. They fight on things like having another baby or not , moving into a different house etc. as Becca wants to move away from the memories donating all her son's clothes and moving the dog to her mother's place while Howie wants to cling on to the memories....he brings back the dog eventually....and later is found snapping at him angrily and then crying on the shoulders of the family dog....husband and wife are still not connecting.

The love for each other is still intact but the grief makes it very difficult for them to connect. Howie tries to find solace in the company of another woman , who seems like an easy consolation .

While all this is happening , another construction is taking place , someone is drawing thin tubes , with multiple elbow bends , opening into funnels . The drawing is built up slowly in the movie , bit by bit . First the tubes are being drawn with swift , firm strokes and then the funnels or openings .The funnels are then filled up with faces , a mother , father and a son.This is Jason , drawing his concept of 'The Parallel Universe '. He tells this concept of basic science to Becca and she wants to see his work.

The scene when Jason comes to give that drawing to Becca , Howie is exasperated with her for this 'interaction' and his anger becomes almost volcanic , he shouts at both Becca and Jason.... at this time the actor was brilliant as his eyes seem to be pleading even when he is shouting .... hurt , grief, anger and frustration on the go ..... love seems to be stalled.

I want to elaborate this concept of parallel universe here , the drawing is like a rabbit hole . An interconnected web of tubes (tunnels) opening into different funnels (worlds) having the same people in those different worlds....Jason says it is possible that we exist in different universes at the same time .... and Becca wants to believe in it.... and finds her comfort in this concept.

Becca had been feeling wronged as she feels her pregnant sister is undeserving for motherhood while she has been deprived of it . She is furious with her mother because the mother keeps comparing her own grief of loosing a 30 year old son , about a decade ago ( or more?) to Becca's still raw sense of grief. Becca's realization makes her discuss with her mother about the grief , about whether it becomes different with time. Becca's mother tells her that the grief is like a burden weighing you down in the initial days , but as the time passes you learn to live with it , and the burden becomes bearable , almost like a brick which you can carry in your pocket wherever you go , but bearable ...

The movie ends with Howie coming home after a realization of his love for Becca , she seems to have resolved to come out of her grief , realizing that somewhere in another universe they might be together with the son..... The acting prowess of the actors , Nicole Kidman and Aaron Ekhart is commendable . I found Dianne Wiest as the mother of Becca very convincing too...

I could so easily connect to this story . Finding comfort in something needing physical work , easiest being gardening and cooking for me , is so effortlessly woven into the story...
Also,when you are trying to look normal ( a 'cool customer' in the words of Joan Didion , the author of A year of Magical Thinking ) , smiling and trying to look happy , the things become difficult for you . Some people take unsolicited liberty with you and also , you find your own behavior bipolar sometimes , because you have been crying mad in solitude and at the same time find yourself giggling in company of others...those giggle sometimes going over the top as if putting a plug over the sore interiors .....

Another point where i connected to this story was the concept of parallel universe , it sounds weird but you would want to believe in it.... for the comfort it brings.

Howie wants to attend group therapy sessions where people share their experiences and perspectives , but Becca finds it ridiculous . Eventually both of them have to chart their own path towards a complete understanding of the larger picture of life . To my understanding , the healing or understanding or even problem solving, cannot always be tackled by psychotherapy manuals or 'social therapists' . A personal approach , a tailor made solution for every person is more effective , especially if the person in question is actively involved in finding the solution....i could see that in the movie.....

The movie was not depressing for the both of us , myself and IHM , although a few tears were shed , but we came out smiling , feeling that we have dealt with it in a better way probably , we didn't ave domestic fights and we didn't get violent in public places ( like Becca does in the movie ) , we had control over our emotions and expressions , well , almost . And we were able to be like a good support system to our spouses and vice versa....were able to find comfort in each other....

We all find our own ways to become happy at the end of the day...we all find our purpose eventually...


  1. Rebuilding life after passing away of a loved one is a painful but an ongoing process and each one has to walk the path on her own. I am glad that you keep involving us by sharing parts of your journey with us.

    You and IHM are both in my thoughts and prayers.

  2. Thank-you for your prayers
    It means a lot to me.

  3. I really appreciate yr quality of noticing the tiniest gesture in a huge canvas…………it always touches my heart. Yes we all have our ways of fighting the odds in life to enjoy the evens…….

  4. You know that Tapati....
    Yes we do chart our own ways once we decide to.

  5. when you look normal to the world around you , everybody kinda forgets that there is something very raw and throbbing just beneath the thin sheen of smile....this line took my breath away and I couldn't control my own tears.

    You have written so wonderfully that I could imagine every single thing. I am really proud of you and IHM :)


  6. i guess one who has lost someone understands the pain .. other i guess move on.. dontknow what to say

    you take care adn god blesss..

  7. Becca gardening and Becca cooking both reminded me of you Sangeeta. I agree the movie is not depressing, it is a positive movie. Her relationship with her mother reminded me of my mother and me. But I thought her sister was rather insensitive.

  8. Sangeeta, I just saw this movie through your words, it is so touching and your words are even more so..the reference to throbbing pain under a smile is just so apt.. Hugs to you and IHM, God bless.

  9. Yes IHM , the sister was quite insensitive , but this is all about life ...we get all the colours .
    We have to overcome so many insensitive people .

  10. almost felt that I just watched the movie. beautiful!. Thank you.

    take care and God bless.
    came here from IHM

  11. Oh gosh! I don't think I can see this movie. I cant relive my loss. You both have been amazingly brave

  12. I Can understand Ritu , some subjects are so difficult to broach after you have lived them painfully...
    Guzaarish was one painful movie for me.