Videovista have my review of John Cameron Mitchell’s Oscar-nominated drama Rabbit Hole.
While there is no doubting that the film has its moments and that many of these moments involve incredibly well observed and subtly performed recreations of humans going through the grieving process, Rabbit Hole strikes me as one of a growing number of films that seem less concerned with their subject matter and more concerned with winning awards for their actors. I call this evolving sub-genre Oscar Bait:
Films such as Stephen Daldry’s The Reader (2008), John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt (2008), Bennett Miller’s Capote (2005) and Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech (2010) tell very different stories about very different characters and explore very different sets of issues but they also share certain clear similarities. For example, while all of these films touch upon quite substantial themes and ideas such as religious doubt, the role of the monarchy, involvement in the Holocaust and the media’s enabling relationship with criminals, none of the films really have anything to say about any of these topics. Indeed, while Rabbit Hole is about a couple experiencing grief over the loss of a child, Lindsay-Abaire’s script does not contain anything that is new or surprising. In fact, the plot of Rabbit Hole could be summarised as ‘unhappy people are unhappy’. However, while Rabbit Hole does not genuinely engage with human grief in any meaningful way, the fact that it alludes to these sorts of issues is sufficient for critics and audiences alike to consider it a ‘serious film’ that is worth a) going to see and b) taking seriously. Having convinced us to take them seriously, Oscar Baits then immerse us in a world full of acting-based set pieces.