I finally got around to watching *The Hole*. I must admit it wasn't what I expected from the preview--it was made out to be a straightforward horror/slasher film, but it turned out to be a decent psychological thriller. More about motives and story than about scares and gore. I have to say that, even though parts of the ending are telegraphed beforehand, it was still enthralling to watch it play out. The movie's roots as a novel are visible, in a good way, in the details which unfold.
Thora Birch was lovely and talented as ever. She's still fairly young and has turned in many stand-out performances--even in small parts like the tiny role she played in The Smokers
, she steals the show. *The Smokers* was a very watchable but forgettable movie, yet I'll always remember it because of Birch's extraordinarily enthusiastic small supporting role. And she's far more lovely than Keira Knightley any day of the week...
As for Knightley, she's by no means a bad actress, but she lacks Birch's screen presence. Even in her recent movies, she seems only "competent" but not really great. One other thing--I was reading the forums at IMDB and someone pointed out that the film's UK release was only a month after she turned 16, meaning she was either still 15 or, far less likely given postproduction and print duplication and distribution needs, just barely 16 when she filmed the make-out scene followed by the brief toplessness. I'm far from prudish, and do enjoy the "sexy high school girl" characters in various films, but IMHO 15 seems a tad too young for this particular role. Sure, Brooke Shields, Jodie Foster, and a host of other good young actresses have played "mature" roles at 15 or even 12, but none of them involved getting pawed onscreen the way Keira Knightley got pawed. Toplessness in a brief nonsexual context, who cares. But the makeout scene where she's clothed but gets pawed all over--no way I'd ever let my 15 year old daughter do that in a movie.
In the current conservative climate I'm a little surprised the film got distributed in the U.S. with the makeout scene intact. Some of you may not recall, but the 1997 remake of Lolita
couldn't find a U.S. theatrical distributor at all until finally the Showtime cable network aired it. Though part of the reason was that the whole storyline is about an exploitive sexual relationship with a minor, a large part of it was also the fact that Dominique Swain was only 15 during filming. Even though a pillow always seperated Swain and Jeremy Irons, and although care was taken to be sure there was no actual contact with certain zones with a body double used at times, potential distributors were wary. I remember the controversy distinctly since a professor at my college was teaching a course around Nabokov's writings, and was very upset that *Lolita* had opened everywhere except in the U.S. Now in this film Knightley was apparently the same age as Swain, yet she gets pawed more graphically, in shots where a body double couldn't have always been used.
Ah well, go figure. It does make me think that distribution here was probably deliberately delayed until Knightley was well over 18, though, so that her underagedness would be less obvious and therefore lessen the potential for controversy.