Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Couple in a Hole - Scots couple take refuge in a French cave (QFT until 14 April)

Couple in a Hole is a curious amalgam of Room and The Survivalist. A Scottish couple take refuge in an underground cave, living primitively in a verdant forest on the edge of a French village.

Karen (played by Kate Dickie) is emaciated and agoraphobic, struggling to step out into the clearing in front of their unusual home. John (Paul Higgins) spends his days wandering around the forest, foraging for food and hunting rabbits (hence the BBFC certificate warning about scenes of animal butchery).

A spider bite injects peril into their mysterious existence and propels John towards the village to seek medical attention. A French couple are introduced to the story arc. The interactions of Andre (Jérôme Kircher) and Celine (Corinne Masiero) with the wannabe Flintstones – whose tragic backstory is gradually revealed – cause the equilibrium to be slowly and inexorably upset.

Under threat, the forest takes on a different nature. Snow falls like ash. The soundtrack oddly includes strains of electronic keyboards, clashing with the film’s natural environment. It’s impossible not to compare Couple in a Hole with the reclusive living superbly portrayed in post-event The Survivalist. Trapped by their own reaction to heartbreak rather than Room’s jailer, the feral pair aroused little sympathy with me.

Ultimately, the initial sparse dialogue and smart cinematography cannot rescue this film whose incendiary conclusion jars with the more mundane middle. A week after seeing Tom Geens’ feature, it hasn’t grown on me.

Couple in a Hole is being screened in the QFT until Thursday 14 April.

No comments: