A Hole in My Heart came up the other day 'in the office', (like it does in most offices, I'm sure) and I thought I would throw this review up that I wrote a for a now de-funked website. I bought and watched the R2 UK DVD when it came out in May 2005. Moodysson's film has yet to find a release here in the US, and I doubt that it ever will. If you don't like spoilers and you plan on borrowing this DVD from me, maybe wait to read this review. I'm going to have to say that the full impact of not knowing what you are getting into with this film is pretty incredible. Read on:
Moodysson doesn’t take long to set the tone for A Hole In My Heart. A tranquil opening scene of two people lying in bed together is jolted from its peacefulness with a showering of cacophonous sound and image. Such is the structure of the film: a waxing and waning between gentle and aggressive, fragile and coarse. While I am willing to admit that Hole is much more than a divisive montage, the oblique structure and evasive imagery are stumbling blocks for me.
The narrative meanders around four people living in a small apartment in which the main activity is shooting a porn video. The action (non-action) swings from mundane conversations to provocative play. The drab day-to-day of these four somewhat interesting characters reveals ‘behind the scenes’ porno production and symbolic theatrics with dolls and a prosthetic torso. Interspersed are some ambiguous (and not so ambiguous) clips from actual surgery footage. This is all done up with some very frenetic editing (in an attempt to seem amateur?) and is combined with a deliberately jarring soundtrack.
If the the words ‘labial surgery’ make you squirm, believe me, the images will make you squirm even more. Although other shots are not as specific, they are nonetheless a full frame of throbbing red flesh and organs being surgically invaded. Moodysson’s very intentional juxtaposition of these graphic and clearly authentic images overshadows anything else going on the film. The images are an assault on the senses that set me on edge and never allowed me to settle into some of the subtleties that the film possesses.
A Hole in My Heart is a much more interesting film to analyze intellectually and formally than attempting to under stand the broad emotional and social territory it covers. Moodysson is obviously a fearless filmmaker. He pushes the boundaries of traditional narrative film structure and content while seeming to embrace the popular means of reality TV and pornography. I appreciate directors that challenge the way we see and watch films, and perhaps this is Hole’s biggest success.
I am an adventuresome film viewer with an open mind, but this film tested my limits. As with most avant-garde film, intellectual engagement is just not enough for me. In the end, Moodysson’s cerebral exercise does little more than dampen my joy of watching film.
Interesting interview with Moodyson in the Guardian.