A Hole in My Heart
By Eric Hynes
it played in New York for about a week (and
elsewhere not at all), there’s a good chance
you missed 2005’s most achingly human film.
I could be talking about Kings and Queen
it came and went nearly as swiftly, and
is as staggeringly fulsome but considering
the chorus of love that Arnaud Desplechin’s
film is deservedly getting from Reverse
Shot’s year-end poll, I’ll save my voice
for a repulsive little shit-stained, puke-filled
bit of hardcore from Sweden, a film that
rewarded its dozen or so paying customers
with 90 minutes worth of irritating audio-visual
aggression, that slogged through cowardice,
resentment, and bloody anger before alighting,
shockingly, on generosity and tenderness.
That’s the way Lukas Moodysson’s A Hole
in My Heart plays, but underneath the
blue bluster it’s actually a big bleeding
heart from first to last.
Establishing interior space as well as Cassavetes and fostering claustrophobia as well as Rope or Lifeboat Hitchcock (whilst being as cock and cunt-filled as a five dollar bootleg), Moodysson sets all but a few fleeting shots of A Hole in My Heartin a spare, two-room apartment that purposefully could be located anywhere in the western world. That it’s Stockholm we’re not venturing outside to see couldn’t matter in the slightest; what matters is what’s inside, and inside we’re all the same snarl of intestines, organs, and bruised feelings. Moodysson has the gall to approach these metaphors literally, yet it works because he’s sucker enough to imagine three pornographers and a pimply virginal Goth as hidden romantics, for whom every shout, shriek, fuck, and fart is both an outer cry and inner salve. First fostering in the viewer a strong desire to escape (the apartment, the ugly characters, the cacophonous soundtrack), Moodysson then supplies snippets of back-story, tossed-off details that make these crude characters weirdly sympathetic, so that one’s dreams of escape entail taking a particular character in tow. Alas, each character does sojourn outside, but things are no better—for them or us. It’s back inside, where things are no less dangerous than they were at the outset, but suddenly there’s a cost, an empathy, and one just wants them to maybe hurt a bit less than they did before.
In picture and sound, A Hole in My Heartis blatantly, outrageously experimental, blending quick-cut montage editing with prolonged, direct-address videography, Dogmatic realism with plasticized objectification, tinny on-board micing with Pro Tools sophistication. But true to form—the way subject ought to be—Lukas Moodysson’s masterwork is a crudely ambitious mess of irresolvable impulses. As humanist as it gets.