A hole in my heart

Director: Lukas Moodysson

Sweden-Denmark| 2004. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 98 min.

After the uplifting positivism of Show Me Love and Together, Swedish director Lukas Moodysson took a chastening look at human trafficking in Lilja 4-Ever, and he continues to explore our avariciously consuming society with what is surely his most contentious offering to date. In a cramped, scummy suburban apartment a black-clad teenager spends his days listening to screeching industrial music on his walkman, all the better to block out the noise of his father shooting a home-made porn video in the next room. As shooting proceeds apace, the degree to which the cast of three—actress and actor and cameraman/performer—are damaged individuals soon becomes apparent, yet keeping their physical and emotional scars in abeyance seems to drive the trio to even more extreme acts of degradation.
Moodysson adeptly side-steps the challenge of presenting this material for a cinema audience by using unflinching inserts of a labial reduction operation and a sex-toy prosthetic vagina as a distancing device to allow the audience space for reflection. We take the point about a voracious visual culture demanding harder and harder sensations, but can a film portray the sharp end of the porn business without itself contributing to that abuse? Moodysson has no easy answers for us or himself, but the parallels he draws with the world of reality television, and his sense of the connection between troubled personal histories and the continuing cycle of exploitation, certainly give us plenty to chew over. Abrasive, shocking, yet also compassionate, this is a genuinely provocative offering from one of Europe’s most consistently surprising filmmaker

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