January 14, 2011 at 1:00 am

Tom Long Film Review: 'Rabbit Hole' -- GRADE: B

Review: 'Rabbit Hole' subject proves to be limiting

Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie Corbett (Aaron Eckhart) are parents who have lost their son tragically in “Rabbit Hole.” (David Geisbrecht)

Don't go down "Rabbit Hole" looking for a good time.

On the other hand, as heavy, stressful, relentlessly sad dramas go, this one goes quite well.

Nicole Kidman stars as Becca, wife to Howie (Aaron Eckhart) and bereaved mother of a 4-year-old boy who died eight months earlier when he ran out into the street suddenly and was hit by a car.

Becca and Howie are dutifully attending a grief group where parents who've lost children air their pain, but all the homilies and over-honesty aren't working for Becca.

Eventually, she pulls out of the group, which gives Howie some room to bond with group member Gaby (Sandra Oh), whose son died eight years prior.

Meanwhile, Becca is doing some bonding of her own — with Jason (Miles Teller), the high-schooler who was driving the car that killed her son.

After some obsessive stalking on her part, Becca and Jason begin an uneasy relationship wracked with mutual and unearned guilt.

Everything about this film is uneasy except the writing — David Lindsay-Abaire adapts his own play — and unexpectedly restrained direction from James Cameron Mitchell, whose last film was the lurid and lunkheaded "Shortbus."

It is, in short, a very well-made film about a thoroughly terrible subject — the senseless death of a child and the awful ripples it sends through the lives of those who loved him.

The film serves as strong reminder that Kidman is as much an actress as a movie star, and that Eckhart has a true gift for strong roles in indie dramas ("Thank You for Smoking," "Towelhead").

And yet … the film is also somewhat limited, probably intentionally, by its subject matter.

There's only so much that can be done here — the tragedy will not ease.

With its central, unavoidable fact on constant display, "Rabbit Hole" can only go so deep.

'Rabbit Hole'

GRADE: B

Rated PG-13 : For mature thematic material, some drug use and language

Running time: 91 minutes

tlong@detnews.com

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