August 3, 2010

Naughty Netflix: A Hole in My Heart

(Think that you can't rent movies at Netflix that contain legitimately explicit sexuality? Think again, my frustrated friend! In this special essay series, I look at a total of thirty mainstream films made over the last forty years, all of which contain scenes of such actual graphic sex acts as fellatio and penetration, reviewing them not in only in terms of the movie's quality itself but also the amount of sex it portrays, and whether this sex is any fun or not to actually watch. For more about how these movies were chosen, as well as the full list of all thirty titles, you can click here; and don't forget, these reviews are also mixed into the master list of all movies reviewed here, over at CCLaP's main movie page.)

A Hole in My Heart

Today's movie: A Hole in My Heart, 2004 (Amazon | IMDB | Netflix | Wikipedia)

The story in a nutshell: 2004's A Hole in My Heart by respected Swedish director Lukas Moodysson sees the normally mainstream filmmaker taking a profound turn not only to the darker but more abstract: this is in fact a nearly plotless two-hour look at a literal living hell, a squalid public-housing apartment somewhere in Stockholm occupied by a middle-aged sociopath who makes amateur online gonzo hate-porn for a living, his abusive male star with an obvious deathwish, his complete trainwreck of a female star, and his horrified teenage son, who futilely tries to block out the proceedings by spending all his time in his room, blasting death-metal in his iPod, the entire thing filmed by Moodysson with the same cheap consumer video equipment that an actual amateur gonzo pornographer would really use in such a situation. The entire thing, then, essentially serves as a locked-room psychological drama (in that we literally never leave this apartment over the course of the film), with Moodysson examining the multiple dysfunctional relationships that exist between these characters, even as he dutifully records the actual acts of human degradation they commit on each other, in the name of producing another of their lucractive online commercial videos.

What I thought: Oh, Lukas, who was it? Who broke your heart so badly that you would literally abandon a promising career in indie film (his most famous film up to that point had been 2000's touchy-feely Together, concerning the ups and downs of a hippie commune in the '70s, which had garnered tremendous praise in the US), to instead make this utterly pointless exercise in human cruelty, an ugly film both in look and tone that literally revels in the kinds of psychological and physical torture that people are capable of inflicting on other people? Because really, how else to explain this incomprehensible trainwreck from a former darling of Cannes, a cheap and meandering experiment that looks literally like something made by a bored film-school undergraduate? Full of the kinds of toneless, existentialist dialogue that Americans cite to make fun of European movies, when of course it's not randomly cutting to actual graphic footage of vaginal reconstruction surgery to the screeching of Scandinavian death-metal, this is literally the definition of audience-despising self-indulgent tripe masquerading as "challenging cinema," and every person involved in this hateful piece of navel-gazing should be ashamed of themselves for not doing more to talk Moodysson out of making this in the first place, or at the very least trying to get him laid during pre-production so he'd be in a little better of a mood during the actual filming.

What makes it an explicit movie? Ironically, except for a copious amount of nudity, there is almost nothing else in this movie to warrant an NC-17 rating; just like a Hollywood softcore film, its notorious sex scenes have been carefully edited so that you almost never see anything out-and-out explicit, even more ironic when you consider how much controversy these scenes caused in Moodysson's native Sweden. Oh, and did I mention the random inclusion of actual graphic footage of vaginal reconstruction surgery?

Is the sex actually fun to watch? Ahem. DID I MENTION THE RANDOM INCLUSION OF ACTUAL GRAPHIC FOOTAGE OF VAGINAL RECONSTRUCTION SURGERY? This entire movie from its first moment to its last, in fact, is pretty much the diametric opposite of "fun to watch," and believe me when I say that I too would've turned it off after a mere ten minutes or so if I hadn't specially been watching it for this specific essay series. (And even with that, I still strongly contemplated dropping it from this essay series altogether.) A Hole in My Heart is essentially Moodysson's giant "F-CK YOU" to the human race, and by all accounts his career as a filmmaker still hasn't recovered from the experience, even half a decade later. (His latest, 2009's Mammoth, got booed at nearly every film festival where it ran.) For the love of all that is holy and good, avoid this literal torture porn at all costs.

Worth your time? No! No no no!

Filed by Jason Pettus at 10:20 AM, August 3, 2010. Filed under: Movies | Reviews |