Swallow (2019)


Image via miff.com.au


Like God Exists, Her Name is Petruniya, this is a stylish and absorbing tale of a sheep becoming a wolf.

Director Carlo Mirabella-Davis, who made the gorgeous and very different The Swell Season, sets the film almost entirely in the architectural, design magazine perfection of the home of newlyweds Hunter (Hayley Bennett) and Richie (Austin Stowell). Hunter is naive and eager to please but her low class origins are barely tolerated by Richie’s overbearing parents Katherine (Elizabeth Marvel) and Michael (David Rasche). When Hunter finds out she is pregnant, her unhappiness morphs into pica, a compulsion to eat non-food objects. It starts with ice but soon becomes a relentlessly uncomfortable experience for both Hunter and the audience.

Hunter’s narrative arc is a tense and believable one. Bennett carries the character well, with a breathy Marilyn-voiced fragility that we can see is a long learned coping mechanism. The sterility of the house, and the endless hours she has each day to adjust cushions, shows a similarly thin veneer that masks the turmoil beneath. Richie, Katherine and Michael are genteel and odious, personifying the toxic entitlement of the wealthy that has ears and eyes closed to reality.

I love the way the story resolved, its final scene in particular was unexpected in a US film. The extended scene as the credits roll is wordless but contextualises the story from that of an isolated woman to all women.

Have you seen this film? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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