A Hole in My Heart premiered in Stockholm last week and the film seems to have carried on in the spirit of Moodysson’s stark, bleak Lilja 4-ever, a film whose protagonist finds herself travelling from a desperate life in an unnamed ex-Soviet republic to sexual slavery in Sweden.
“Violent sex and vomit,” declared Aftonbladet, explaining why children under the age of 15 would not be allowed to see the movie, which was was filmed in seventeen days in a rented apartment in Trollhättan.
The film has four characters. Rickard, played by Thorsten Flinck, is an amateur porn director. Rickard’s friend Geko (Goran Marjanoviç) and a young woman (Sanna Bråding) are enlisted to make a sex film in his apartment, while his teenaged son Eric (Björn Almroth) sulks in the corner of the room.
Moodysson’s choice of Thorsten Flinck was one of the first issues the Swedish press latched onto. Flinck has had his share of coverage in the culture pages for his work in films and as a director for the stage, but with spats with his co-workers and an alleged major substance abuse problem he’s given the evening papers plenty to talk about too.
A Hole in My Heart was made somewhat collectively, and the four actors are listed in the closing credits as collaborators on the manuscript. Flinck’s reputation (veering towards bad-boy control freak) led to press speculation that he would either take over the film or simply “run amok, naked and drunk”.
But Moodysson’s first interviews on the film dismissed all such concerns, and he said that his choice for the part of Rickard was relatively straightforward.
“I saw a huge kindness in Flinck,” he said to Sydsvenskan.
In a Canadian film festival A Hole in My Heart was described as “a satire of the whole reality television trend and its false celebrities.”
But Moodysson takes issue with this view and explained in a long interview with Dagens Nyheter this week that his work was primarily influenced by the Marxist idea of reification.
He added that the film is really about “people who attempt to navigate in a setting where everything is for sale, where everything is disposable.”
In the same article Moodysson described an inspiring trip to Stockholm’s Skansen with his children where he saw a seething pile of hairless rats, and the scene that followed.
“I talked about it with the actors and in one of the first things we filmed – and this sounds like the worst sect type thing – I asked them to play naked rats, but clothed. We turned on enormously loud death metal music, turned off the lights, and lit the actors with pocket torches.”
Moodysson’s methods might stray a tad from the norm, but his subject matter has caused serious discussion within Sweden – where Lilja 4-ever gained notoriety because it dealt with a side of Nordic prosperity that most Swedes would prefer to know nothing about.
In interviews on A Hole in My Heart he has discussed his move away from the somewhat cozy imagery that marked his first two films.
“In the real world terrible things happen all the time. It’s good to feel bad after a film. I think that it’s psychopathic to not feel bad about the way the world looks.”
Despite his apparent attempts to educate the filmgoing public, Moodysson has remained cagey about A Hole in My Heart along with his cast and crew.
“I’ve made a wonderful meal for everyone, but I’m not going to chew it for you as well,” he told Svenska Dagbladet.
It might be worth skipping dinner before attending a screening.
Ett hål i mitt hjärta opens on Friday 17th September throughout Sweden.