A Hole in One (USA ; 97 min.)

directed by: Richard Ledes
starring: Michelle Williams; Tim Guinee; Meatloaf Aday
A Hole in One
Bruce says: "ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST taught us what better topic for black comedy than lobotomy. FRANCES, a tour de force for Jessica Lange, approached the subject in a somber manner. Along comes A HOLE IN ONE, directed by newcomer Richard Ledes, which is delivered with a hodgepodge of styles and techniques - voiceover narrative, old film clips, archive newsreel, fantasy sequences, historical headline news, flashback, and old fashioned storytelling. Set in the 1950’s with flashbacks to the 40’s, Ledes covers a lot of Americana. He shows us the postwar era of the brand new modern 50’s and also the shabby, seedy side of the 50’s that made do with leftovers from prior decades.

"Anna (Michelle Williams) grows up in an old fashioned house with her parents and brother whom she adores. When her brother returns from World War II, he comes home permanently scarred. He is a person who cannot return to his former self. Instead, he directs traffic, except for the fact he is actually directing waves at the ocean or trees in the middle of the woods. As many veterans did, he ends up in the Merry Joint Hospital, a Veteran’s Administration Hospital, where he is given the job of cleaning the Animal Testing Unit after receiving electro shock therapy. One day he escapes and fatally attempts to direct real traffic.

"Anna stumbles upon a relationship with Billy (Meat Loaf Aday) who is a hotshot gangster. She moves in to his modern ranch house, complete with sunken living room, where she watches her favourite movie, THE SNAKE PIT. When Billy murders a local restaurateur in a jealous rage, Anna numbly witnesses every blow.

"Anna fears that the mental illness which had befallen her brother has also affected her. She hears a boy baby crying in odd places. As the film opens it is Mental Health Week in Icetown. Anna is determined to learn as much as possible about her madness and possible cures. She reads up on lobotomies in Life magazine and newspapers where headlines proclaim lobotomies are “No Worse than Removing a Tooth.” Inevitably she announces to Billy “I never ask for anything,” then asks for a lobotomy as a present.

"While Anna does her research we get to see what goes on behind the scenes at the local hospital where Dr. Harold Aston gives lectures on the latest craze in psychosurgery, the trans-orbital lobotomy (often called the ice pick lobotomy) which had replaced the traditional prefrontal leucotomy. His lectures include homilies such as “To pursue forgetfulness is to pursue happiness.” Among his peers he gloats about lobotomy patients making good golf caddies and how simple his life has become since he can perform assembly line lobotomies with a pocket size kit in any space with room enough for a body to lie down. His preoperative line is “I’m going to do something that will make you feel a lot better.”

"Postwar America was noted for its forward thinking and entrepreneurial spirit. And its gangsters. Hindsight reveals the entrepreneurs and the gangsters weren’t all that far apart.

"I’ve never seen “Dawson’s Creek,“ but I was very impressed with Michelle Williams on stage in a Mike Leigh farce, “Smelling a Rat” and in THE STATION AGENT and IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK 2. In A HOLE IN ONE she delivers the proper mix of innocence, quirkiness, comedic timing and dramatic awareness. She could easily become a major star. Meat Loaf Aday is adequate as the odious Billy, slightly guilty of overplaying the role. The others fill the bill much as supporting players do in many David Lynch films.

"Stephen Trask (HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH, CAMP, and THE STATION AGENT) has composed a moody mix to match the eclectic tableaux. Richard Ledes has an amazing knack for effortlessly integrating his ideas. Here’s hoping Ledes keeps on making films. 4.5 cats"