Recent years have been filled with films that use a skewed perspective to give audiences a sense of a character's mental illness. But Richard Ledes' A Hole In One tries to get deep into the psychology of his off-kilter characters by splintering his narrative into a confusing mess of scenes, anecdotes and tangents that leaves his film pretty near unwatchable.
There's no drive or force pushing the film through: It just meanders aimlessly through the lives of several characters and touches on a host of seemingly random themes and subjects. Violence, lobotomies and family dysfunction are fodder for Ledes' garbled script. The dialog is affected, the 50s-era sets cheap, and the acting inconsistent. Every scene just wanders around until it's time for the next.
In addition to his inability to craft a script that tells a story, Ledes also seems incapable of communicating some sort of consistent message to his cast. Every actor seems to be in a different film, from Meat Loaf Aday's boisterously cartoonish gangster to Tim Guinee's blandly earnest performance to Michelle Williams' unconvincingly loopy character. Williams, who has been impressive in films as diverse as Brokeback Mountain and Dick, is clearly without direction here. She seems to want to full give herself over to her period role, like Julianne Moore might have, but without any material to inspire her she just sort of stares and mumbles.
It's too easy to make jokes about a bad movie that has lobotomies as part of its subject matter (a cursory search for other reviews of the film finds plenty already) but there really does seem to be some sort of mental disconnect between the story Ledes thought he was telling and what's actually on the screen.
The film is presented in non-anamorphic widescreen, so it's already down a couple of notches. At times the image was some crispness and vibrancy but for the most part I was struck by how dull and soft it was.
The soundtrack is available in both 5.1 and 2.0 mixes. Both are fine. The voices are clear and the music (by Stephen Trask) is probably one of the more enjoyable creative elements of the film.
The main special feature (which doesn't appear on the special feature menu) is the director's commentary track. Ledes clearly thinks his film works on a lot of levels and talks about all his big influences and ideas but frankly the film doesn't work in the ways he wants it to.
The disc also includes a "bonus documentary" called "The Gate Of Heaven" which is actually a 3 1/2 minute home movie Ledes shot at the vacant mental health facility that partly inspired the film. It's pretty much worthless. There are also some filmographies, bios and trailers.
Richard Ledes wants to mix a little Jim Jarmusch, Wes Anderson and John Sayles together and come up with something unique but instead A Hole In One is a leaden mess.