Monday, January 02, 2006

A Hole in My Heart (2005)

If this were only just the anti-social wallow in filth that this film's detractors (whom are myriad) claim it is, I'd probably just spit a couple invectives and move on. But you know what? It's not that. It's a good deal more than mere anti-everything hatred, but before I start I must note that, with few exceptions, everyone who hates this cites their love of Lilya 4-Ever as a reason for their crushing disappointment with this, Lukas Moodysson's latest film. But it's exactly there that we start to realize why this film works. This raw, painful film shows Moodysson getting down off the pedestal of artistic objectivity that ruined Lilya and staring his subject matter in the face. Like many great works of art, it has been made in a state of towering anger. This is noticeable not only in the bleak subject matter but in the techniques of the film itself -- Moodysson's rage is such that it compells him to edit the film into a violent frenzy, throw white noise in with the sound mix, swing around handheld cameras like yo-yos and generally turn this into a confrontational objet d'art. And confrontational it is: there are images here (including true-life footage from labial reconstruction surgery and the climactic image, which is the grossest ejaculatory metaphor on record) that will punch even the most hardened cinephile in the gut. That, though, is rather the point: Moodysson's thesis is that, in the age of reality television and mainstreamed pornography, there are still some things that should remain unseeable. (Not for nothing that That Climactic Image is immediately followed by the lead taping his eyes shut.) It's not just the audience's fault, either, for demanding this stuff. The participants are indicted for allowing themselves to be dehumanized in such a manner (thus the obvious-but-effective "doll" scenes), and the director even scorns himself (and, by extension, the others making films like this) for feeding into a culture that encourages things like this. But then, anyone can cram a bunch of repellent material into a film, cop a couple editing tricks from Jonas Akerland and call it art. (Jonas Akerland, actually, is quite practiced at this.) What keeps this afloat, what keeps it, in the end, from being just a wallow, is the faded presence of hope. What we have here are people at the very bottom of life, who have long since lost any reason to hope for better things. And yet, little grace notes will occasionally peek through the din. The last five minutes of the film cement this notion: at the end of the day, we're all just looking for someone to care. This is still the same guy who made Show Me Love, and he's still following the same impulses. None of the hand-holding miserablism of Lilya made it into this film, which seems to have ticked off some people. (Reason #985 not to read James Berardinelli: this offensively clueless review.) What we have here is a film that is filled with a very real anger and a very real sadness about this modern world, and it wants to show the injustices it sees without losing sight of the humanity of those involved. Let it be heard here first: There's real bravery in this picture.

Grade: B


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home