Monday, January 10, 2011

Rabbit Hole and the Ring of Perfection

There's a concept I sometimes use when, you know, I'm talking to myself, that I'm going to call the "ring of perfection." It's a feeling I get (and I'm going to arrogantly assume others get too) when a movie is perfectly complete. That is to say, it perfectly achieves what it set out to do, whether that was something simple or something complex, leaving nothing wanting. I'm calling it a ring because when a movie gets this right, it does almost feel like something is ringing somewhere in my gut.

Here are a few movies that, in my view, achieve the ring of perfection:

1) Once
2) Waitress
3) Two Lovers
4) Talk to Her
5) Harold and Maude
6) Brief Encounter
7) 500 Days of Summer
8) The Savages

There are surely others, so if you have any in mind, leave a comment saying what they are so we can all appreciate the ring of perfection.

I guess it's a little weird that I described this thing before talking about Rabbit Hole, because Rabbit Hole is a movie that does not achieve the ring of perfection. It's very good; indeed, there is nothing wrong with it. Nicole Kidman gives a really brilliant performance as a mother who has lost her four-year-old son. She's typically herself, cold and restrained, but with occasional, well-timed emotional outbursts. Dianne Wiest is fantastic too as Nicole's caring but irritating mother, and this is probably the first movie ever in which I think Aaron Eckhart, who plays Nicole's husband and the father of the dead child, wasn't miscast. But no ring of perfection.

A few people have told me that, because of the subject matter, they found this movie hard to watch, but that doesn't tend to happen to me, maybe because the pain of movie characters always seems so fleeting, so utterly bearable, compared with any of my own. And a few people have also told me that they had trouble understanding why Nicole's character attempts to stalk the teenager who was driving the car that killed her son, but that didn't bother me either, because people do bizarre and inexplicable things even when they're not grieving. No, nothing about this movie bothered me. It just didn't have the ring of perfection.

That's sort of what we're looking for in our closest relationships too, isn't it? With best friends and significant others? The ring of perfection.


  1. good list! here is mine (yeah, i have cheesy taste...):
    - babe
    - little miss sunshine
    - the usual suspects
    - a simple plan
    - good will hunting
    - the squid and the whale
    - finding nemo

  2. THe ring of perfection is def. hard to find in relationships. I think the only movie out of those was Waitress. I think Phantom of the Opera, THe Notebook, and the Harry Potter movies would be mine. :)

  3. @Jill: Are you saying Waitress is the only one you've seen, or the only one with the ring of perfection?

    @Laura: I'm actually kind of ashamed to say the only ones of those I've seen are Good Will Hunting, which I saw a long time ago but remember liking, Little Miss Sunshine, which I almost put on my list but I ultimately decided had the same quality as Rabbit Hole, and Finding Nemo, which I do think is a great kids' movie.

    Thanks for your lists, ladies!

  4. @Jill - I think The Notebook is like the necklace of perfection!!!!!

  5. Ha, love it. But, I have to admit The Notebook isn't my fave.

  6. @ Jennie: watch little miss sunshine - the epitome of ring of perfection. And I agree with you on Harold and Maude as well, talk about perfect

  7. I've seen Little Miss Sunshine, almost made the list but something about it didn't totally sit right with me. I'm glad we agree on Harold and Maude though.