Once again, independent cinema takes its toll. For a film that took five years to develop accentuates dedication and determination. Finding financiers to back a film about loss and humanity may be a rigid task, but as long as the conception can turn into completion, the light at the end of the tunnel can now be reaped up. Couple in a Hole tries to be powerful, heart-wrenching and traumatising. The question is, does it achieve these three attributes?
First of all, let us note the synopsis. A Scottish middle class couple ends up living like savages in a hole in the middle of a vast forest in the French Pyrenees. The reader begins to question why? As the unravelling of the story occurs, the audience begin to empathise with its protagonists. Providing the audience remain patient, the answers will unfold eventually. Perhaps the directors executive decisions to follow the film making rule: show rather than tell are superfluous in this case. To see John played by Paul Higgins, hunt for food; explore the beautiful mountain scenery of the Pyrenees and being at one with nature drags a tad. Thirty minutes in and the audience get the point. He hunts and provides food for his wife who mysteriously lives in a dark hole. When we find out why, then our attention is grabbed after all the persevering.
Kate Dickie’s performance as the traumatised Karen is outstanding. To play a wife/mother, who has lost her son in an accidental fire, makes the viewer sympathise with her. At the same time, we empathise with John’s situation and frustration as he yearns to return home. The death of her son has resulted her to develop agoraphobia. This woman simply cannot leave the area of the hole that she resides in as it is like a womb protecting her until she is ready to be reinstated into the world, or more rather society and the outside world. Until then, John will support her until she can get over her tragic loss.
What is enticing to watch is how John and Karen’s isolated relationship will be put to the test by Andre played by Jerome Kircher. A new question arises from curiosity. Why is Andre interested and eager in helping John? We see him provide medicine for Kate as she encounters a venomous spider bite, followed by giving John food and then eventually money to enable them to go back to Scotland. When the audience finds out, two and two are put together, the dots and T’s are crossed and the audience are enthralled by a powerful tragic story of how loss can get the better of you. Sometimes, support is not enough of a blanket. It needs a lot more than that. The audience sit in awe as John and Andre cannot help Karen as her loss has made her a little too unstable. Furthermore the theme of conscience and guilt come into the equation with Andre that adds to the icing of the plot.
Overall, Couple in a Hole could be compared to a far tamer version of Lars Von Tries Antichrist. Violence will evolve through the latter part of the film, but no way near as graphic. If a viewer is prepared to persevere and be challenged to heavy drama, than it’s a perfect independent film to see. But if they crave something light-hearted, obviously the answer is obvious.
Couple in a Hole is in cinemas 8th April 2016.
Director: Tom Geens
Writer: Tom Geens
Stars: Paul Higgins, Kate Dickie, Jérôme Kircher
Runtime: 105 mins
Country: UK, Belgium, France
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