A black comedy that asks the age old question: is a lobotomy
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 01/10/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I have been checking out movies in which Michelle Williams appears for the past couple of months and have come to the conclusion that she is one of the best actresses working in Independent films. It is not just her performances but also her choice of roles that I find interesting. Since Williams received the Best Supporting Actress award at the Critic's Choice ceremonies tonight for her role in "Brokeback Mountain," it is entirely possible that more people will start to think that she was the best thing to come out of "Dawson's Creek." Watching this 2004 film will give them addition evidence to support that conclusion so that it is not simply a question of earning the distinction by default. Just be aware going in that this is not a Cohen Bros. Film, but it does seem like one.
"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."