A Squalid Swedish Porno Drama Punishes Its Audience

Kung Fu Hustle is not the week's lone self-reflexive genre bender. Operating in an even more popular mode than martial arts, although to considerably less populist effect, Lukas Moodysson's A Hole in My Heart is a frenzied attempt to turn porn movies inside out.

Antic, if not funny, the Swedish director's fourth feature is chamber drama with a vengeance. It's set on the squalid set of the world's most amateurish amateur fuck film—a three-room apartment which is amply trashed by the time the movie wraps (or rather collapses). Four players crowd the screen—the brutish Geko, his naively masochistic co-star Tess, their sleazy director-cameraman Rickard, and Rickard's teenage son, Eric. A pasty goth who keeps pet earthworms, Eric spends much of the movie avoiding the grotesque "movie" that's being produced. He cowers in his room blasting industrial noise as the aspiring stars and the would-be mogul drink their way toward ultimate degradation. Tess, who has gotten intimate cosmetic surgery to better play her role, suffers the worst abuse—not all of it for the camera. Occasionally, however, Eric tortures his father by serving him water secretly drawn from the toilet bowl.

This highly artificial situation might have been more compelling dramatized onstage, but Moodysson makes sure we understand that it's only a movie, shattering the chronology of the shoot while punishing the audience with his discontinuous thoughts on porn. He's fascinated by his characters' exhibitionism and delusions of grandeur, but that can cut two ways. From the opening strobe burst of pocky-looking naked people through the mega-close-ups of labial surgery to the all-out nihilistic regression of the climactic food fight, A Hole in My Heart is an unrelentingly crass and confrontational barf bomb that makes Lars von Trier's The Idiots look like the philosophical experiment that it is.

Sex is comedy: Thorsten Flinck
photo: Per-Anders Jorgensen/MEMFIS Film
Sex is comedy: Thorsten Flinck

The sentimental humanism of Moodysson's first two features—Fucking Åmål and Together—shaded into calculated miserablism with Lilya 4-Ever, his feel-bad account of a post-Soviet teenage girl's abandonment and exploitation. Slate's Summary Judgment dubbed Lilya 4-Ever "the movie that made Anthony Lane cry." I'd shudder to think what bodily fluids might be released by A Hole in My Heart except that, having seen the movie, I'm afraid I know.

 
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