7.6/10
2,993
17 user 15 critic
While never-ending rain and a strange disease spread by cockroaches ravage Taiwan, a plumber makes a hole between two apartments and the inhabitants of each form a unique connection, enacted in musical numbers.

Director:

Ming-liang Tsai
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7 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview:
Kuei-Mei Yang ... The Woman Downstairs
Kang-sheng Lee ... The Man Upstairs
Tien Miao ... A Shopper
Hui-Chin Lin Hui-Chin Lin ... A Neighbor
Hsiang-Chu Tong Hsiang-Chu Tong ... The Plumber
Kun-huei Lin Kun-huei Lin ... The Kid
Shiang-chyi Chen ... (voice)
Daphne Han Daphne Han ... (voice)
Bo-Chin Wei Bo-Chin Wei ... (voice)
Jacques Picoux ... (voice)
Chih-yen Yee Chih-yen Yee ... (voice)
Yi-Ching Lu ... (voice) (as Hsiao-Ling Lu)
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Storyline

A strange disease starts to affect people in Taiwan just before the year 2000. The authorities order everyone to evacuate, but some tenants of an apartment building stay put, including a shop owner who lives by himself. One day, a plumber goes to the shop owner's apartment to check the pipes. The plumber drills a small hole in the floor, which comes down through the ceiling of another apartment. The hole never gets repaired, and this leads to some tension between the shop owner and the woman who lives below him. Written by Patrick Lin

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A search for intimacy in a world of disaster.


Certificate:

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Details

Country:

Taiwan | France

Language:

Mandarin

Release Date:

24 March 1999 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

The Hole See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Quotes

The Man Upstairs: Can I help you, sir?
A Shopper: Do you have this kind of bean sauce?
The Man Upstairs: This brand was discontinued a long time ago. We have the same thing but only in a different brand.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Silent Hill 4: The Room (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

Bu guan ni shi shei
Performed by Grace Chang
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A little gem of an absurdist film
16 May 2010 | by propastSee all my reviews

"You cannot survive on rainwater alone."

So intones an unnamed government official at the beginning of The Hole, addressing the obstinate residents of an unnamed apartment building, who refuse to move out of their homes even though their area has become overrun by a mysterious plague that causes people to behave like cockroaches (and then die off, of course). The words take on an irony when we see that, in this apocalyptic world, rain never stops falling and the apartments' residents struggle to keep leaks from destroying their remaining possessions.

There's not much to be said about plot here - a plumber visits a man because the woman below is complaining about leaks, and leaves a hole in the floor behind. The man above and the woman below take turns blocking up the hole and tearing away the other person's efforts to do the same - both of them seem loath to give up this one human connection.

It IS their only human connection. The woman below lives in utter seclusion, mopping up the floor and stopping up leaks in a pale imitation of a life. For all intents and purposes, she's a cockroach already, hiding in a dark, dank hole. The man above goes to his store every day, although his only customers are a starving cat and a confused old man whose favourite brands no longer exist. They go about their lives as though nothing were amiss, living quite apart. The rest of the apartment seems inhabited, but nobody stirs. Doubtless they're all also sitting in their little holes and trying to live their little lives.

Here, Tsai is brutally satirizing the increasing lack of communication between human beings; even in the face of the end of the world, people remain isolated in their own little bubbles. This message was clearly prophetic, because the 2000s have come and people are living more apart than ever before; The Hole aims to unveil the absurdity of day-to-day life.

It's also worth noting that there are four musical numbers that begin at unexpected moments. A woman dances and sings in gaudy clothes and with loud instrumentals playing in the background. In one such scene, she and the man she pursues dance around and around as the traces of a fumigation rise up from the stairs and envelop them. These moments alone in the film do not resemble human behaviour; ironically, they're the only ones that make sense. The roaches' compulsion to hide, too, makes sense. It's human nature that's the absurdity.


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