A Hole In One
Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain) delivers a stunning performance as Anna, a young woman in the 1950s obsessed with mental health. When her brother returns home from the war changed and depressed and her gangster boyfriend, Billy (Meat Loaf Aday) kills someone in front of her, it becomes more than she can take and she looks for a way to relieve her pain. She becomes convinced that the only way she can be happy is by having a transorbital lobotomy, the latest technique in brain surgery. Billy hires Tom, a sympathetic Korean War vet to pose as doctor and dissuade her from getting a lobotomy. An attraction between the two develops and eventually she becomes caught between these two men who must then decide her fate.
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Holy Toledo what kind of film is this? It has all the earmarks of an independent film. The actors look like they're reading the script with the exception of Meatloaf looks like he doesn't know where the script is. The props are real enough. The camera jerks around like the "Blair witch project." The music came from an old Hallmark film. Moreover, the pointed humor is blunt. The lobotomy scenes are right out of "The seven Year Itch" - Upward inward, pulsating, ending and unending.
A girl Anna Watson (Michelle Williams) with a slight disorder is in a dysfunctional world. As we see what her problem is, we also get real glimpse of TV and camera footage from the 50. There was the Rosa Luxemberg trial and the bomb (the big one). Even "The Tenth Man" broadcast was real. You can see the yellowing pages of a copy of Life Magazine from 1947. Anna cannot communicate with her brother after the war as he has gone off the mental deep end. In addition, her gangster husband is a sort of hands on guy when it comes to dealing with anger.
Anna decides the only way to face her problems is to get a lobotomy. Her gangster boyfriend convinces one of his subordinates Tom (Tim Guinee) to play doctor and tell her she does not need one. Tom plays doctor too well.
Dr. Tom Franklin: You know, I'm not a real doctor.
Anna Watson: It's ok; I'm not a real patient.
The ending is quite cool.
The Seven Year Itch
8 Heads in a Duffel Bag
"A Hole in One" is a black comedy that has such a deft touch that you may have to pinch yourself to remind you it is the functional equivalent of a morality play. Williams plays Anna Watson, a young woman growing up during the Eisenhower years. When her younger brother returns from the war suffering from shellshock she cannot reach him and her parents are not interested in trying. Things become so bleak that Anna becomes the girl friend of Billy (Meat Loaf Aday), a murdering gangster. Finally she decides that what a trans-orbital lobotomy will solve all of her problems. After all, it is National Mental Health Week and Dr. Harold Ashton (Bill Raymond) is in Icetown showing how easy it is to take an ice pick and drive it a couple of centimeters into somebody's brain. Who would not want to be cured of alcoholism or depression with a couple of quick taps on a needle that enters your brain through your eye socket? (Come on, what is the worst thing that could happen?).
There is not much to say about Billy, but he does know that lobotomies are nonsense and that Anna does not need one. So he arranges for her to see Dr. Tom Franklin (Tim Guinee), who will pretend to give her a lobotomy. Of course, it would help if his fake office actually had chairs, but that is a small matter when a woman's frontal lobe is at stake. First-time writer-director Richard Ledes is able to use Williams and her performance to navigate these dangerous waters. I am not sure why Meat Loaf was a good choice to play this role (besides being allowed to sing a rather different version of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat"), but Raymond is Anna's true foil as he sells the idea of lobotomies with a skill that used car salesmen would envy. Besides, it is more the role of Billy that stands out as a sore thumb because he does not seem to be an animal of the 1950s, and it is the dark vision of America during that period that is threatening to sweep Anna along with its tide.