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Couple in a Hole


Stars: Paul Higgins, Kate Dickie, Jerome Kircher, Corine Massiero

Director: Tom Geens

After having sat through rather too many movies that have been made under the auspices of the British Film Institute (which in reality simply means that Lottery money, which would be far better used to support the undernourished National Health Service, is being spent on rather too many movies whose natural home is sadly too often on late night television), my heart sank when I saw the BFI logo, along with name-checks for some ten other collaborators in bringing writer-director Tom Geens’ first cinema feature to the screen.

Happily, I was wrong.

While I am not suggesting that this strange, essentially bleak drama is intended to be a mass-market melodrama, I do believe that serious filmgoers seeking an unusual and fascinatingly told story will be well rewarded.

Still emotionally traumatized by the death of their son, the eponymous middle-class couple Paul Higgins and Kate Dickie (both excellent in unconventionally stark roles) are living a feral existence in a French forest, hoping to find much needed emotional release Eventually hunter-gatherer Higgins finds himself being drawn back towards civilization, making contact with a local farmer. Then their self-imposed isolation dangerously begins to crumble when a poisonous spider bites Dickie…

It’s not comfortable to watch – Belgian-born Geens sets the tone right at the star when graphically Higgins kills a rabbit by smashing its head against a tree and then graphically disembowels it prior to its serving as dinner for him and his wife. What follows is equally unsentimental, powerfully put over by the two leads and illustrated with ultimately potent lack of visual or verbal garnish…

The film is frequently gruelling and hard to watch. That said, all concerned have achieved something unique and remarkable with a story that bodes well for Geens’ future.

Alan Frank

UK/Belgium/France 2015. UK Distributor: Verve. Colour.
104 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 09 Apr 2016