Virtual Screening Room: The Hole



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1998 • dir Tsai Ming-liang w/Kuei-mei Yang, Kang-sheng Lee • 89 min

A prizewinner at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival, THE HOLE is set in Taipei slightly in the future – just prior to the dawn of the 21st century. The vaguely sci-fi story follows two residents of a quickly crumbling building who refuse to leave their homes in spite of a bizarre virus that has forced the evacuation of the area. As rain pours down relentlessly, a single man is stuck with an unfinished plumbing job and a hole in his floor. This results in a very odd relationship with the woman who lives in the apartment below. Combining deadpan humor with an austere view of loneliness and several unexpected musical numbers, Tsai Ming-liang crafted one of the most original films of the 1990s – and one that seems oddly appropriate for today’s circumstances.

THE HOLE was originally produced for a French television series called 2000 Seen By… which depicted various directors’ views of the impending Millennium. The Brattle was home to special premiere screenings of these films – including works by Hal Hartley, Don McKellar, and Abderrahmane Sissako – back in 1999 and we are excited to once again offer this typically eccentric offering from one of the world’s most underrated master filmmakers in the longer, director’s preferred cut.

“As it turns out, what might be the best film about how it feels to be alive right now was already made 22 years ago.”
– Sean Burns, The ARTery

“A genius of deadpan comedy as well as a poet of urban anomie, Tsai fills his meticulously composed frames with revealing details that often double as sight gags… funny, melancholy and finally entrancing.”
– Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

“An illuminating, musical embrace for the ages.”
– Keith Uhlich, Slant Magazine
“Deadpan, surreal and pandemically prophetic.”
– Roger Moore, Movie Nation

“One of the ten best films of 1999… Tsai’s most distilled, droll, deftly realized allegory—an apocalyptic comedy with numbers by Grace Chang and intimations of Jacques Tati.”
– J. Hoberman, Village Voice