To call Lukas Moodysson’s A Hole in My Heart the feel-bad movie of the year would be an understatement — it’s the feel-sick movie of the millennium. Ugly and ominous, full of squalid shock images and scraping bursts of noise that might be the sounds of technological murder, this quasi-experimental feature beholds the end of the world in a cramped and grungy Swedish apartment, where two smug creeps (Thorsten Flinck and Goran Marjanovic) and a damaged young woman (Sanna Bråding) are shooting an amateur porn video. Closet voyeurs, beware: There is virtually no sex. The characters mock and berate and terrorize each other, they dance and play soccer, they cram food (and worse) in each other’s mouths. All the while, Moodysson intercuts their antics with close-ups of eyeballs, labial-reduction surgery, violated Barbie dolls, and meat sitting in toilets.
There’s a method, of sorts, to this madness. In Show Me Love, Together, and Lilya 4-Ever, Moodysson emerged as one of the most potently humane directors of his generation, and A Hole in My Heart is his punk catharsis. This grimly assaultive movie wants to rub our noses in what it regards as the psycho-spiritual wounds of porn: the substitution of flesh for love, the addiction to violation that’s really a fantasy of destruction. Moodysson comes on like de Sade crossed with Godard, yet by locking us outside of his characters, he fails to make them even contemptuously compelling. It’s obvious that his method was to improvise, and to discover his movie in the process of editing it, but tossing off an apocalyptic masterpiece isn’t so easy. If there’s a lesson to be divined from A Hole in My Heart, it’s that even a gifted filmmaker shouldn’t treat his audience like it needs to be taught one.