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The Hole

In the opening minutes of The Hole, Tsai Ming-liang‘s 1998 film, disembodied voices berate government officials for botching the response to a viral outbreak. Later, a man and a woman, both tenants of a grim, concrete apartment building in Taipei, opt out of an evacuation to ride out the epidemic at home. Most of their neighbors have fled the mysterious disease, which makes those it infects scurry around like cockroaches. Upstairs, the man copes by caring for a stray cat and drinking himself into a stupor. On the floor below him, the woman escapes into song-and-dance fantasies where she dons Broadway-style outfits and sings like Grace Chang. When a plumber working on the man’s apartment leaves behind a gaping hole, he unwittingly,creates a portal bridging the man’s and the woman’s until-then sealed off worlds. From there, the story unfolds in the deliberate, lived-in style of slow cinema. Though The Hole takes place just before 2000, the dank, rain-soaked Taipei it’s set in feels post-apocalyptic. It’s a film about living in a crumbling world and finding human connection through an aperture that might not have opened if things weren’t falling apart. The film is available to stream through Suns Cinema at bigworldpictures.vhx.tv. $8.