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Hole, The (2001, Thora Birch, Keira Knightley)

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The Hole is the journey of an academic outsider as Thora Birch leads this unexpectedly memorable journey into the consequences of obsession. After going missing for three weeks, Braebourne public school student Liz Dunn (Birch) reappears at school, and relates her story to psychologist Philippa Horwood (Embeth Davidtz). She claims to have had a crush on Mike (Desmond Harrington), engineering a meeting with him via her friend Martyn (Daniel Brocklebank).

When Martyn gets jealous, she claims he imprisoned the pair, along with their friends Geoff (Laurence Fox) and Frankie (Keira Knightley) in a disused wartime bunker, The Hole of the title. Believing most of the story to be a fantasy, Horwood nevertheless has Martyn arrested but under interrogation he claims the whole situation was masterminded by Liz, who took everyone to the bunker. The truth – dark and unpalatable as it is – gradually becomes apparent to the doctor, who soon wishes she had never met Liz…

As his career progressed from formulaic TV series to minor films ( Martha, Meet Frank, Daniel and Laurence ), Nick Hamm’s development as a film-maker is evident. The young Brit has developed a laconic style suited to a story as dark and complex as this, layering tension upon uncertainty as the threads of Liz’s story begin to unravel. There’s an element of biography here too, as he works through the issues faced with his own unhappy experiences at a Belfast boarding school.

Determined to keep the project British, he embarked on a fruitless search for a domestic star. Turning to Hollywood he persuaded Birch to enrol, confirming her status as one of the most talented and watchable of teenage stars. Liz’s mind-games could so easily have fallen flat, but her duplicity is riveting in the hands of a performer attuned to the nuances of the role.

production details
UK | 102 minutes | 2001

Writer: Ben Court, Caroline Ip (from the novel by Guy Burt)
Director: Nick Hamm

cast
Thora Birch as Liz Dunn
Keira Knightley as Frances ‘Frankie’ Almond Smith
Laurence Fox as Geoff Bingham
Gemma Craven as Mrs. Dunn
Anastasia Hille as Gillian
Jemma Powell as Minnie (as Gemma Powell)
Desmond Harrington as Mike Steel
Daniel Brocklebank as Martyn Taylor
Embeth Davidtz as Dr. Philippa Horwood
Steven Waddington as DCS Tom Howard
Emma Griffiths Malin as Daisy
Kelly Hunter as DI Chapman
Maria Pastel as Policewoman

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