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Ett hål i mitt hjärta (2004)

A Hole In My Heart

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 94 minutes

UK Certificate: 18


Within the confines of a small suburban apartment, amateur director/producer Rickard (Thorsten Flinck) and his insecure friend Geko (Goren Marjanovic) are making a hardcore porn film with Tess (Sanna Bråding), who dreams of fame in Swedish television's 'Big Brother', or at least in LA's porn scene. Over the next 24 hours, the trio's videotaped sexual scenarios turn into acts that are altogether more violent, degrading and extreme, exposing the jagged edges and inmost recesses not just of their bodies, but of their very souls. Meanwhile Rickard's son Eric (Björn Almroth), a shy teenage Goth, sits cocooned in the dark of his tiny bedroom with only his thoughts, dreams, fantasies (and pet earthworms) for company, trying to shut out the horror of what is happening on the other side of the door.

Lukas Moodysson's previous film, 'Lilya 4-Ever' (2002), a grimly confronting portrayal of the dehumanising effects of child prostitution, has been championed as an educational tool by international organisations such as Amnesty International and UNICEF in their war against sex trafficking. In his latest, 'A Hole In My Heart', the Swedish writer/director turns his attention once again to, amongst other things, the evils of the sex industry – but this time he has constructed a film far too spikily experimental, and with a 'message' far too diffuse, to be of much ancillary use to campaigners against porn.

It is not that Moodysson's work has ceased to be driven by serious issues – indeed here his many targets include consumerism, misogyny, guns, violent video games, reality television, the cult of celebrity, plastic surgery and family breakdown – but the director's artful array of alienation effects (jarring jumpcuts, chronological disjunctions, heavily distorted explosions of sound, subliminal images, a thoroughgoing confusion of dreams and reality), and his refusal to yield his film's events to anything like a straightforward narrative, ensure that 'A Hole In My Heart' will remain resistant to any easy appropriation or interpretation. Moodysson's characters may repeatedly insist that what they do is 'fun', but this is no fun film – even if, like Moodysson's earlier 'Together' (2000), it ends with a family reintegrated and love restored.

Moodysson pulls no punches in showing his four characters engaged in the most abject forms of behaviour – even the otherwise gentle Eric, when he is not tricking his father into drinking toilet water, is fantasising about shooting him in the head. Yet far from glibly demonising them, Moodysson instead roots their perversion in trauma, loss and longing, as each tries to find something to fill the gaping void in their heart. While some may find this humanist, psychoanalytic approach no less glib than demonisation, and somewhat reductive (do all people in the sex industry have troubled childhoods?) – and many no doubt will dismiss as pretentious shock tactics the graphic images of surgery which punctuate the film – those who make it all the way to the end may well find themselves strangely moved, as depravity gives way to a bleak sort of sentimentality, and there is a faint hope that the next day may be different from the last.

It's Got: A jarringly fractured narrative that bombards the senses; depravity that is somehow all the worse for being (mostly) consensual: a core of humanity that slowly emerges from all the squalor and perversion.

It Needs: A high tolerance for shock-tactic experimentation (or pretentiousness, as some may call it).

DVD Extras Scene selection; choice of stereo 2.0/5.1 surround; optional English subtitles; A Hole In My Second Heart (16min), unusual (but revealing) making-of featurette showing the cast arguing with Moodysson on-set over his refusal to give them direction ("we talk about the fantastic Lukas Moodysson, and this comes along - a confused guy in a cap who hassles people"); Lukas Moodysson Masterclass (26min) interview by Leslie Felperin from late 2004, in which Moodysson reveals that his starting point for Together was wanting to make a film about people with beards, and declares A Hole In My Heart to be "my best film - absolutely" (even though he admits to not knowing "what its actually about"); original theatrical trailer; an eight-page directors statement (which is rather abstract). Version reviewed: A Hole In My Heart (Metrodome), (also available in Metrodomes four-disc 4 Films by Lukas Moodysson boxed set. DVD Extras Rating: 6/10


A difficult, not entirely rewarding film about boys, men, mothers, whores and everything in between.