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Rabbit Hole 

Nicole Kidman shines in a thoughtful drama about grief.

click to enlarge Grief becomes her: Nicole Kidman
  • Grief becomes her: Nicole Kidman

Things could hardly be better for Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie (Aaron Eckhart): nice house, nice garden, a station wagon, and plenty of time to play squash and see the latest production of Stoppard. If only Danny, their 4-year-old son, hadn't died eight months earlier. Howie wants to grieve openly and talk about it; Becca doesn't and won't. Then, Becca reaches out to the bright, creative high school senior who couldn't stop his car in time when Danny ran into the street chasing their dog. A tranquil sadness saturates Rabbit Hole, which bears the sensations of American Beauty. But it's less elaborate, and closer to the bone. How far does guilt extend? How long should grief last? At a support-group meeting, the "professional wallowers" irritate Becca, and she tartly challenges a woman who says her own child died because "God needed another angel." "Why didn't he just make one?" she asks. "He's God, after all." Director John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) and David Lindsay-Abaire (adapting his Pulitzer Prize-winning play) have fashioned a tense, thoughtful drama, perceptively acted by an experienced cast -- Kidman is superb at melancholia -- that includes Dianne Wiest, Sandra Oh and Giancarlo Esposito. There's nothing really new here, but seeing the familiar done well still has its satisfactions. Starts Fri., Jan. 21. Manor

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