HOLE IN THE WALL, a pocket-vest drama/road trip indie from South Africa in 2016, is equal parts intriguing and frustrating: sort’ve like seeing some worthwhile sites or a neat event but doing so with the wrong people.
Middle-aged Afrikaaner ‘Rian’ (André Odendaal,) has lived his life to suit himself, in the process alienating his 20-something son ‘Ben’ (Nicholas Campbell,). In the last stages of untreatable colon cancer, father takes son, and ‘Ava’ (Tinarie van Wyk Loots, 36), the comely nurse, who’s been attending him, on a last hurrah road trip through part of the country to some farm property in KwaZulu Natal province. Rian is a handful, Ben is resentful, Ava equal parts open & mysterious.
Co-directed by Odendaal, filming was done entirely in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal. The scenery, what little is actually made of it, is certainly worth seeing, especially the coastal feature of the title, and the performances are fine. But the script, written by Susan Coetzer, is terrible: bare character sketching for the actors to work with, dead-end conversations, entire scenes that limp off unfinished, unexplained behaviors that are apparently are meant to suggest depth that just isn’t there. Whatever charm the off-putting Rian is supposed to have can only be guessed at, and Ben’s too one-note sullen to rouse much empathy. With her alluring eyes and knowing smile, Tinarie van Wyk Loots wins every moment she’s given as Ava, but it’s an uphill battle with the half-baked screenplay, indecisive direction and slapdash editing.
Titled Gat in Die Muur in its native country, Odendaal put his intimate, certainly well-meant project over for a micro budget amounting to just $428,000. Johan Vorster co-directed; the results amount to a promise half-delivered. With Bweki Mkhwane and Anna Davel. 104 minutes.