Monday, 8 October 2007

The Hole (1998, Taiwan/France, Tsai Ming Liang)

At the end of the millennium Taipei is overwhelmed by an epidemic that the government cannot contain, and the rain is torrential and endless. Whilst most people are evacuated, in an anonymous tower block two residents stay around. The potential for connection is both metaphorically and physically created by a plumber's poor workmanship which creates a hole in the floor/ceiling which separates their apartments. The unnamed male and female protagonists go on with their lives as best they can in a pretty unpopulated city where food and provisions are scarce, but they sometimes meet, which then turns 'The Hole' into a surreal musical. In glorious colour, Tsai Ming Liang portrays her state of mind through stunningly choreographed song and dance routines where the woman believes she is Grace Chang, a Taiwanese pop singer from the 1950s and 1960s, and croons her way through several cabaret style songs of love and longing, which is in stark contrast to the dire situation she finds herself currently in.

Back in reality though, the protagonists try to stick with their routines; hers involves the odd stockpiling of toilet roll and he sticks to voyeurism. The prevailing theme in Tsai Ming Liang's films is the need for connection and the inability for individuals to achieve it in the modern world (maybe he's the heir to Antonioni in that respect), and these individuals struggle with their need to make contact with each other, though the final scene finds the man and woman finally doing so, which begins one final musical fantasy. Tsai Ming Liang's film may be as much about Grace Chang as it is these individuals. He closes with a respectful acknowledgement towards her music and the joy it brought him, as much as it did for the female protagonist of The Hole.

1 comment:

sp said...

I choose to post a comment here because this is the movie which brought me to this blog (and it's a movie I loved).
I really like tha fact that your selection is so extended in time and space. Definitely a good ground for a cineforum (in the Italian sense, not sure what the right translation would be). Keep going!