french films > Couple in a Hole

Couple in a Hole

Couple in a hole

Couple in a Hole

Review score: * * * * *

cast: Paul Higgins, Kate Dickie, Jérôme Kircher, Corinne Masiero

year: 2016

colour: yes

certificate: TBC

director: Tom Geens

runtime: 105

Following a terrible and mysterious accident, John (Paul Higgins) and Karen (Kate Dickie) find refuge in the forest, in the middle of the French Pyrenees. Living a feral existence, they survive by hunting and live in a rudimentary hut. Karen never gets out of her hole, the only place in which she feels relatively safe and her muscles are so numbed by months of inactivity that she can barely stand. An incident leads John to meet André (Jérôme Kircher), an old neighbour living in the nearby village. Through this nascent friendship, John slowly renews contact with normal life, which progressively takes him away from his wife, cloistered in the pain of her mental trauma. As for André, his concern about the Scottish couple may not be completely selfless. 

The images of nature are both splendid and oppressing, and the brutality of the Pyrenees' takes all the room. The feeling of suffocation is emphasised by the shooting method, as the film alternates between close-ups and larger shots, in which humans seem drowned into the immensity of nature. 

In addition, the two couples involved switch constantly from tenderness to violence and from bond to rift. The audience is plunged into a psychologic tension, as both physical and verbal violence can be unleashed at any time. The rarity of dialogues increases their strength. 

"I liked the juxtaposition between civilisation and nature, between the ordered/the clean/the predictable and the wild/dirty/the unpredictable", explains director Tom Geens. "In a way that's a theme that comes back a lot in my work, about the animal in all of us. About the fact that however civilised we think we have become, the animal underneath is never far away"

The film really gives food for thought on the topics of bereavement, solitude and agoraphobia. Hats off to the four main actors, who play their role perfectly and manage to deliver strong emotions through very internal acting. 


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