The Hole

The Hole

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In Tsai Ming-liang’s musical/sci-fi romance The Hole, rain-drenched Taipei is overrun—seven days before the year 2000—by “Taiwan Fever,” a disease that turns infected persons into light-phobic human cockroaches. Yang Kuei-mei and frequent Tsai collaborator Lee Kang-sheng play, respectively, an unnamed woman and man who occupy adjoining top and bottom apartments in a rundown public housing complex, each unaware of the other’s existence until an incompetent plumber, examining the source of a leak, opens a hole in the floor/ceiling between their two residences. The hole acts as a metaphorical and, finally, spiritual connection between the two—Lee being the comically silent voyeur to the annoyed yet curious Yang, who daydreams Technicolor musical fantasies in which she sings and dances the pop love songs of Grace Chang. Tsai details their love among the ruins as an extended pas de deux set against cold concrete structures and accompanied by the consistent drone of an alternately oppressive and liberating deluge, though he takes welcome time out for a few stock-company walk-ons (observing the elder, former martial-arts actor Miao Tien wandering past numerous abandoned grocery marts in search of the proper bean sauce—which Lee informs him has been discontinued—is one particularly hilarious and heartbreaking moment out of many) before returning his focus to the lovers’ dual fantasia. It culminates in an ending of transcendent beauty with Lee literally lifting Yang up where she belongs—above and beyond the surrounding malaise and decay and into an illuminating, musical embrace for the ages.

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DVD
Distributor
Fox Lorber
Runtime
95 min
Rating
NR
Year
1998
Director
Tsai Ming-liang
Screenwriter
Tsai Ming-liang, Yang Pi-ying
Cast
Yang Kuei-mei, Lee Kang-sheng, Tong Hsaing-chu, Lin Hui-chin, Lin Kun-huei, Miao Tien