See This or Die: ‘Rabbit Hole’

Our weekly feature in which a writer answers the question: if you could force your friends at gunpoint to watch one movie or TV show, what would it be?

There is a scene about midway through “Rabbit Hole” that gets grieving exactly right. It takes place between Becca Corbett (Nicole Kidman) and her mother Nat (Dianne Wiest), both of whom have tragically lost their sons: Nat to the horrors of drug addiction eleven years before and Becca to a car in the street eight months ago. As they are placing boxes of four-year-old Danny's things in the basement of the home Becca shares with her husband Howie (Aaron Eckhart), Nat sums up her feelings on loss with an elegant metaphor.

Becca: Does it ever go away?

Nat: No, I don't think it does. Not for me, it hasn't, and it's going on eleven years. It changes though.

Becca: How?

Nat: I don't know…the weight of it, I guess. At some point, it becomes bearable. It turns into something that you can crawl out from under and carry around like a brick in your pocket. And you even forget it, for a while. But then you reach in for whatever reason and there it is. Oh right, that. Which can be awful. But not all the time. It's kinda…not that you like it, exactly, but it's what you've got instead of your son. So, you carry it around. And uh…it doesn't go away. Which is…

Becca: Which is what?

Nat: Fine, actually.

I can't stress enough how beautifully written this is, and how beautifully delivered by Wiest, who gives another Oscar-worthy performance as a woman who perhaps isn't wise about a lot of things but who knows grief as intimately as the back of her own hand. It's the quiet centerpiece of a film that is as wise as it is heartrending.