Why I liked ‘Rabbit Hole’.

I don’t know how I would have found this movie if I had seen it before August 2010.  A scene I found heart rending was described by a reviewer as so hilarious that it ‘left the audience snickering’. In the scene, Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie (Aaron Ekhart) who have lost their four year old son in a car accident eight months ago, are meeting other grieving parents at a ‘Bereavement Support Group’. A couple talks about how they were fine with their child being with god. I have tried to believe this too. I felt the parents were struggling to find solace in an impossible, senseless  painful situation . Nicole Kidman couldn’t bear to hear it – she felt god was all powerful, and could have created as many angels as he needed.

Her anger wasn’t funny, it was sad. It really is difficult to understand why the entire universe did not conspire to help you the one time you really wanted something.

And then there’s her relationship with her mother,  the one person who hopes to, and is expected to, magically comfort you, and to always know exactly what the child needs.

During one of the worst and the most painful moments two months after my daughter died, I told my mother I just couldn’t bear the pain. She stood up, looking lost and  uncomfortable and said, slowly, “This is something you have to learn to accept.” I tried to explain what I was feeling, but she looked still more uncomfortable. She stood staring for a while and then went out of the room, and returned with a glass of water. She had the same look on her face that I saw on Becca’s mother’s face (Dianne Wiest). My mother, like Nat, had looked frightened, even guilty, just how could she as a mother, not know how to make it better? It took me sometime to understand. Maybe I too had stood and stared at my daughter in the ICU with the same expression on my face.

Another scene that struck a strong cord was at the store, when Becca sees this child asking for something and the mother refusing it.

We were at Om Book Stores and I saw this little boy asking his father for some books which his father refused. The child continued to ask and it really troubled me. Tejaswee did the same in book shops and I didn’t always buy everything she asked for. But watching this child, I wanted to tell the father to buy him whatever books he wanted. It was difficult to see the child’s disappointment. I couldn’t understand Becca’s violent reaction though, either it is a flaw in an otherwise brilliant movie, or I have just not met enough grieving parents to know if such violent reactions do happen.

The movie began with Becca refusing an invitation by her neighbours. I could relate to that too. I feel it would be sometime before any real celebrations would be possible, and it’s fine to take one’s own time.

Also since all acquaintances can’t be expected to understand how one feels, it’s fine  (if one can) to interact with those who do understand. For as long as needed.

I watched the movie with Sangeeta, and walked out of the hall feeling positive and somehow, comforted. Read how she felt  here.

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41 thoughts on “Why I liked ‘Rabbit Hole’.

  1. Grief has no words IHM and when I see you expressing your grief so eloquently, I can only admire your inner strength to face your pain head on.
    Your words carry the hurt you are going throug and though I haven’t been through even a fraction of what you have, I can very well feel what you feel. I guess, being a mother of two myself, helps.
    God bless you and your Family 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Momofrs I also avoid what I know might cause pain.

      Tamara Thomas says, “Grief isn’t a choice. The loss sweeps through our lives and removes the familiar, leaving the bereft in an unknown land. Grief is not voluntary. We can’t just “get over it” by wanting it so. The loss itself transports us to another place, another world, another existence where everything appears to be the same, but in truth nothing is.”

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  2. Oh IHM, when I read this movie review on another blog, I’d decided to not watch it, as it would be too overwhelming. I cannot even fathom the extent to which it must have pained you to watch it. But like someone above has said, one can only admire your inner strength, and look up to you as a source of silent inspiration.

    Me – It wasn’t a sad or depressing movie actually, some reviewers found some scenes funny. It is a witty, sensitive and a positive movie. Do watch it if you get a chance, there’s a lot more to the movie than the few scenes I have described.

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  3. IHM, it seems like a powerful movie and one worth watching, despite being painful. Another movie, that is not specifically with the subject of bereavement but covers it beautifully is the Chinese ‘To Live’, made by acclaimed director Zhang Yimou.

    Me – I hope to be able to watch ‘To live’ Apu. Rabbit Hole was also strongly recommended by friends and bloggers, it wasn’t a painful experience, being able to identify with the parents was not painful, it was comforting.

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  4. Now thts some review… A review unlike anything I hv read. U hv bought out ur personal feelings without ever digressing from the story…

    Me – Meena what I saw and expressed could be (IS) biased, reviewers saw the movie as witty and sensitive. It’s a lovely movie, it managed to comfort my friend and me, who watched it together.

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  5. Haaa sad isnt it when we see somebody we love in pain n we know there aingt a thing we can do to reduce it…

    I so admire you for using ur grief so constructively…. You truly are a role model….

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  6. I read the review and I am not watching this movie.. For I dont think if i can take the pain.. you can call me a puff but that what it is.
    and reading your post i do appreciate what you might have felt watching the movie..

    and Really I being man and been told i am not suppsoed to cry or anything as if men dont have emotions..
    The last few years have been a bit on the wrong side for me too in my personal life first my grand-dad both , then my dad and then my best friend and a few other issues, Sometimes i sit at home and anything coming on Tele triggers some emotions which are uncontrollable..
    So I can understand what you feel a bit of it .. and I do admire and sometimes when i have been talking to a friend I have mentioned you a lot many times ..
    I guess what i mean to say is that you have given me the strength so thank you..
    GOD bless you , and gives you the strength to bear it Take care now

    Me – Bikram, the movie was positive, it did not depress us, I watched it with Sangeeta and we both came out of the hall smiling. It kind of made me feel that what I was feeling was not unnatural… or that I wasn’t the only one feeling the way I felt. But I agree, if something upsets you, you have every right to avoid it – nobody else can really tell you with surety what may or may not comfort you.

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  7. I am glad that movies like this that explore issues that people face, are made. It helps people know they are not alone and hopefully gives those around them a clue to do their best to keep the ones grieving as comfortable as they can get. Or at the very least not hurt them any more.

    My heart goes out to your mom and always to you. Hugs.

    Me – Hugs Sangitha. Yes that is exactly how the movie made me feel!! Loved it.

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    • Yes , such movies make us believe that everybody goes through he same pain and phases while grieving …. so it saves us from feeling sad for ourselves , even if momentarily.. but it helps.

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  8. I never heard of this movie but looks like i would cry endlessly if i ever happen to watch it ..

    And to admit , i too get uncomfortable reading or talking of death of a close one .. I some times get edgy reading your blog too though i never knew you or your daughter a month before from now.. I don’t know how to react or respond .. And it some times saddens me …

    Me – I think it is natural to not understand what to do or say ladynimue, I still feel at loss of words when facing other parents who have lost a child. This movie actually might help show what grieving parents go though. In this movie Becca also goes around following the teenager whose car killed her son – she needed answers and she was able to forgive him when she realises the accident haunts him too…
    do watch if you get a chance, it didn’t depress us, it made us feel comforted.

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  9. Reading abt the movie in the papers was painful enough. I totally understand about your mom…my mom was partly helpful and partly had that same reaction you described, and I guess it’s natural…it’s her grandchild, she’s involved, how can she support when she’s also in pieces?

    For me, sick babies crying in a hospital will have me in pieces. Just like the boy in the bookstore…some feelings become very strong, it’s difficult to detach.

    I was also expected to participate in certain celebrations. One I refused, I went to the other one against my instincts and had a nervous breakdown in the gathering. Stay away as long as you want IHM, but keep meeting those who care and support you.

    Me – I expected my mother to be able to hear all that I had to say and remain detached enough to comfort me – for many months I never saw what it was doing to her, then one day she said something about not crying infront of me and I told her (Words from Indyeah, Abhilasha’s blog) – about tears being a tribute to those we love, once she could cry and talk about how she missed Tejaswee too (and once some time had passed perhaps) – she became much better… but I know I expect miracles from her, and those she can’t perform. I couldn’t either.

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    • You know, I found my mother also weeping one day, had never realised what it had done to her, esp because I was technically under her ‘care’ for my delivery. She faced as much of a lack of support as I did. And I agree…tears are a tribute, we can’t keep them inside forver to let them eat away at us. It’s very hard to grieve and also try to help other family members (and pets) who’ve lost their sister/granddaughter/niece etc. Grief is very complicated…glad you brought out and have recognised this aspect of it.

      As for others crying in front of me, I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand it felt that someone else cared that deeply…on the other I was resentful that in the middle of my grief, I had to console others and control my tears for fear of upsetting them. What a convoluted mess, no?

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  10. 😦 don’t know what to say.

    Me – I understand Rakesh. But even if the post sounds sad, the movie was positive and we did walk out smiling. I think we need more movies like this – like there’s one scene where her sister refuses to use Danny’s (Becca’s son) clothes because she thought it would be weird to see her child wearing them (now that Danny was dead) – no judgment is passed, one just sees Becca washing and bringing the clothes excitedly to her sister, this was one of her precious possessions after her son died.

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  11. After reading both the posts ‘Rabbit Hole’ has moved from my ‘can watch’ list to ‘must watch’ list. Having suffered the loss of my father, I completely understand that the grief of loss is a burden you always carry, however the weight reduces with time.

    IHM I am a fan and an ardent reader for the last few weeks. Thanks for sensitively encompassing so many social issues in your writing.Its a treat to read your posts.

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  12. Seeing the other children being denied happiness or suffering in any other way , especially kids the same age as our lost children, will always make us feel terrible , whenever it is happening around us….and this is the most uncontrollably painful part of it all. I struggle to overcome this feeling the most….a young child in pain is something i can’t handle right now….

    The movie is not at all painful to watch , everybody will come out with a thing or two to learn from it….dint we learn that there can be life even after that ?

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  13. I appreciate how you express your grief. I find it difficult to communicate with people who are grieving, what can you say to them that would make them feel even a little bit better about the loss of a loved one? Nothing!
    And like you said, it would be but natural to be angry or react to parents who would not buy that book or a small toy and see the disappointment in the child’s face, when you have lost yours.
    I should watch this movie.

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  14. My husband and I watched the movie few weeks back and it was very heavy. The movie ends with a positive note. But I can see why people might avoid watching it.
    People that haven’t lost a child are probably left with the feeling of deep sorrow and helplessness thinking about the what-ifs, among others. People that have lost a child might find it as a support group, sort of finding someone that one can identify with, someone that knows what you might exactly be going through.
    In either case, I think it is definitely worth watching for the direction and acting.

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  15. Once long back, when our kids were much smaller, I was watching movie with a friend. The friend laughed at the reaction of the mother to the news of her child’s terminal illness, saying that it was exaggerated and none would behave that way in real life. I was amazed that she should judge another person so. I feel, how you react to a child’s loss is not something that is in text book form.
    I have been blessed (or cursed?) with the ability to go through what another is feeling, even when it is a book or a film and more so when it is real life. I remember a Malayalam poem from long back. It is about a mother who scolded and spanked her son for breaking a branch off the mango tree when it was in bloom. How many would-be fruits were lost by his act. But the child dies of illness in the following days and when the mango ripens, the mother holds them and cries for her son who is no more there to eat it. Such a touching scene so well brought out in poetic form by the poet. It affected me so much right from my childhood. There is a fine line where we have to enjoy the present, now, for you know not what tomorrow has in store for us. It is not always possible to know. Applies to all relations. But yes, losing a child is the most unbearable (I feel) pain.
    I am going to watch this movie.
    Though I have been blessed with an abundance of empathy, I fear I wouldn’t be brave enough to talk about my feelings. That is what I admire about you. Hugs.

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    • I think you will be able to appreciate the movie, it has got excellent reviews everywhere. Being able to empathize is a strength Shail, and my talking about my feelings is simply an effort at coping. I also think losing a child is the worst, and the most unbearable pain – I lost my dad on 29th Feb 2008, that was terribly painful, but now I feel he was lucky he died when he did, he would have been 76 now and although I miss him and wish he was there to give me a hug or to cry with me, sometimes I feel now I am glad he has been spared watching his child go through something he can do nothing to change.

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    • Can’t understand how anyone can laugh or disbelieve in or dismiss this kind (or any kind) of loss…but then maybe I’ve done it too…seeing a neighbour sink into deep depression for 3 years after her 84 yr old dad died, I couldn’t believe the extent of her grief…but then I realised it when my dad was critical a few months ago. I understood then. I also found out later that her grief was complicated by her daughter’s divorce. I guess we can never fully know what is going on in others’ lives and minds. So easy to judge.

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    • Shail, thank you for reminding me of that beautiful poem I learnt in school. Boy’s name was manikuttan. My mommy, a malayalm teacher had a way of teaching and whole class was be cryign and sobbing by the end of the class. There is another poem about a Mamma dove killing her daughter thinking that she ate the toasted beans therefore less in quanity. but later when mother roasted beans, she realised that beans shrink and get lesser in quanitity. thanks for reminding me of these poems.

      IHM sorry, took lot of your space..but could not help!

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    • I know the feeling Shail… Especially after I’ve become a dad, almost every kid seems like my own and I get a lump in my throat every time I see a child with a sad face, be it in a movie or in a picture or on the street. Reading about this story, I again have a heavy heart.

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  16. IHM, glad you watched the movie and came out smiling. I may not brave it..I am coward therefore try to avoid anything that upsets me.

    My love to Tejaswee, our guardian angel.

    And I love what you said about your mother in one of the responses.”but I know I expect miracles from her, and those she can’t perform”. It is so real!

    God bless you IHM

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  17. awww… poor granma… 😦 that ought to hurt hey na… hugs to all of you… glad that u walked out of the movie hall smiling… God bless`

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  18. You’re extremely brave to have watched that movie after what you have been through. I have not personally lost a child but have shared the grief of a sister in law who lost hers. I thought the film would be hard to watch but went anyway.
    I found it extremely sensitive and Nicole Kidman’s acting very nuanced. People have been making fun of her calling her ‘wooden’ – I loved her. I also found Aaron Eckhart as the husband very very wonderful seeing as how, in the face of his own pain he continued being patient, loving and loyal.
    I understand her outburst in the store with the mother who would not buy her child sweets – it was so obviously out of character for Becca that it showed how neurotic the death of her child had made her.
    But back to you IHM – you are very very brave and I send you a big hug and all the strength in the world.

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  19. What a delicate subject! I can only speak for myself. Of course, you never “get over” it. I’m not even sure what that would mean. For myself, I’m not even sure how well I’ve learned to live with it. I’ll think I have it all completely under control when out of nowhere I’ll be hit with it again, maybe while I’ll just walking down the street. Nobody else sees it or knows – I’ve learned over the years how to hide it – and it comes and goes in a second. But it’s still there.

    Valentine’s Day this year was his 40th birthday. You’d think after 26-27 years, it’d get easy. It hasn’t for me. I had to stop myself from thinking about his wife, his kids, our lives…I simply can’t allow myself to get into the victim mode. Go take a shower or something. Better yet, get into action helping the people of Haiti (yes, they still need help) or whoever needs help today. I can indulge myself for a few minutes, then pull myself up and get on with life.

    IHM ji, it has been such a short time for you, less than a year! I’m astonished that you are able to write as you do and share it publicly. I suppose it is a sort of therapy. It is also a great act of courage. My dear lady, please be very gentle with yourself…

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  20. You could have gone either way with this movie. Broken down and walked out or come out taking the positives with you. Your strength to take it as positive, your writing about it makes this review beautiful.

    Wishing you a lot of strength. Hugs.

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  21. I think I’ll try to get this one and watch it ASAP.

    Hugs to you….I think I can understand that look on ur mother’s face or probably yours – that helpless feeling….Oh my….take care…

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  22. I loved the movie too, IHM. wrote a review too. It’s a very beautifully done movie, I thought. I broke down when Becca breaks down seeing Jason(the teenager) going to his prom.

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