Ett hål i mitt hjärta
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DIRECTED BY: Lukas Moodysson
FEATURING: Björn Almroth, Thorsten Flinck, Goran Marjanovic, Sanna Bråding,
PLOT: A son watches as his father and a pair of actors shoot an increasingly violent and depraved amateur porn movie in their small apartment.
COMMENTS: Lukas Moodysson has had a strange career. He began as a poet and novelist before moving into cinema with his debut, Fucking Åmål [AKA Show Me Love], a realistic lesbian romance. After another crowd-pleasing drama, the commune-set Together, he went into darker (but still realistic) territory with Lilya 4-ever, a bleak drama about a Russian girl sold into sex slavery. After this well-received trio, Moodysson was a critical darling with a large home-grown fan base. Seemingly, he decided to blow it all up with the deliberately off-putting experiment A Hole in My Heart.
There’s not much story to Hole. A young man lives with his dad. He rarely leaves his room, partly because the father is using the rest of the apartment as a set to produce a series of amateur porn films with his two live-in actors (one male, one female). In between shoots, the three principals dance and party as the son hangs out alone in his room, tending his earthworms and listening to industrial music on his headphones. The porn scenarios begin as normal sex acts but escalate into pseudo-rapes, force-feeding, and vomit play (the latter somewhat reminiscent of the commune orgies from Sweet Movie.) At one point, the female actor angrily abandons the group, but soon returns to pick up where they left off, acting as if nothing had ever happened. Some character development occurs: the son and father discuss the boy’s dead mother, the actor and male director bond when the latter reveals he has a serious illness (a hole in his heart?) that causes him to occasionally pass out, and the actress flirts with the son, falling short of a seduction but nevertheless producing a bond. Everyone seems to be seeking love, but not finding it. The film ends inconclusively.
The material here is disconcerting enough—the three porn producers block out upcoming scenes using barbie dolls, who sometime lose limbs in the process—but Moodysson deploys infuriating formal tricks to discombobulate the audience. The soundtrack barfs up a lot of grating, staticky noises at random moments. Though the story is ultimately told mostly in chronological order, the editing is often non-linear, crosscutting quiet conversations with sex scenes. There’s a dream sequence featuring crop circles. Moodysson interrupts the flow with snippets of real surgery footage, of both the labiaplasty and the open-heart variety. The entire things is shot faux-documentary style, with indifferent framing, unflattering lighting, and with both product labels and faces of extras fogged out. (At one point, the main cast’s faces are digitally obscured, too, suggesting the characters’ shame and lack of consent to be filmed under these degrading circumstances).
The overall feel of Hole in the Heart is of one of those nihilistic experiments of Harmony Korine or Giuseppe Andrews. At its best, it approaches a Lars von Trier Dogma 95 provocation like The Idiots (1998). But Hole fails to generate empathy for the characters inhabiting its squalid setting, leaving little impact other than a dyspeptic stomach. The one thing that saves Moodysson’s experiment from total failure (and a Beware rating) is that the screed does have a particular target, the adult entertainment industry, and it does suggest, through pornographic poetry, how that commercial concern sucks in the vulnerable and distracts humanity from making healthy connections. That’s an intellectually thin message, however, and one that’s largely drowned out by the rivers of blood and vomit on screen.
Moodysson followed up this effort with the even weirder (but less disgusting) Container, an abstract avant-garde movie that nearly cost him all his remaining supporters. Her returned to realism with 2009’s Mammoth, then won fans and critics back with the heartwarming nostalgic coming-of-age story We Are the Best! in 2013. All seven of his features are collected in Arrow’s “The Lukas Moodysson Collection.”
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:
“…not so much about story as moods, atmosphere and symbolism. At times, its use of sound and flickering images recalls films like ‘Eraserhead’ and the symbolism of early Bunuel. From the beginning, there is a sense of dread and uneasiness, and this feeling only gets stronger by the minute until it feels like the film itself will explode.”–Gunnar Rehlin, Variety (contemporaneous)