October 06, 2021
Spanish artist Pascual Sisto’s fable of a boy holding his family hostage is well made, but it revolves around a tiresome cop-out
John and the Hole review – stake-free arthouse ordeal movie that keeps digging
Spanish artist and film-maker Pascual Sisto made his directing debut with this movie, written for the screen by Nicolás Giacobone, known for his script collaborations with Alejandro González Iñárritu: it was selected for the First Features section of the Covid-cancelled 2020 Cannes film festival. John and the Hole is well enough photographed and acted, but is really an oppressive and exasperatingly pointless piece of work, without consistency or the courage of its realist convictions.
John (Charlie Shotwell), is a 13-year-old kid in a well-to-do American family (cue traditional tense family dinner scenes) whose main interest is Tennis. He is clearly alienated from dad Brad (Michael C Hall), mum Anna (Jennifer Ehle) and elder sister Laurie (Taissa Farmiga). Moody, lonely John one day discovers a large, concrete-lined hole in neighbouring woodland, part of an abandoned construction site – so he drugs his family and puts them down there while they are out cold.
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