Directed & Written by Carlo Mirabella-Davis
Starring: Haley Bennett, Austin Stowell, Elizabeth Marvel, David Rasche, Denis O’Hare
Plot Synopsis (via IMDb):
Hunter, a newly pregnant housewife, finds herself increasingly compelled to consume dangerous objects. As her husband and his family tighten their control over her life, she must confront the dark secret behind her new obsession.
I’d been wanting to see this for ages as it looked like the weird kind of shit I like. Sounded like the kind of story David Cronenberg would do (but don’t get the wrong idea – this is nothing like a Cronenberg film!). I liked this one a lot (I’d say it’s one of my favorites I’ve watched so far this year, actually).
Swallow certainly won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, though – I just like an unusual story. What also made me very happy is that this film is beautiful. She lives in this absolutely gorgeous house with an amazing view and wears ridiculously lovely dresses while vacuuming her gorgeous home in high heels like a good old-fashioned housewife, and the cinematography (I guess?) showcases all of this beautifully. I know nothing whatsoever about filmmaking & what makes this movie pretty. Cinematography? Art direction? I don’t know. I just know that I liked the look of it & I’m very into a film’s visuals (it’s why I like Argento & Leone movies). Promising Young Woman also had a good “look” that I liked. Swallow is a lovely looking film, so I’ve added quite a few images from it to give you an idea.
Besides looking so good, I was very surprised to find that this was a great character study. I thought Haley Bennett, as Hunter, was perfect. I think some people may have had the wrong idea before seeing this film, which is probably why its IMDb rating is unfairly low. Even I had wondered if it would somewhat be a “horror” (as I said, I had Cronenberg vibes from the synopsis). It’s also rated 18 (R in the US) but that must only be because the subject matter is so disturbing. Understandable, as it’s a scary but also very real disorder (called pica) and is a movie that shouldn’t be seen by anyone young as they’d not understand it.
Whether the movie does a good job exploring this real disorder I can’t say. I know nothing about it but am sure it has been studied by plenty of experts. But, as a film with a fictional character, I thought it did a great job showing someone with a mental illness & how those in her life didn’t support her. You could feel how alone Hunter felt despite having this seemingly perfect life. Without support & love from those in her life, her condition spirals out of control. I wanted to smack her damn husband & say “Be there for your wife, you superficial asshole!“.
Well, this was meant to be in my “monthly roundup” post next week. As it’s ended up a fairly long write-up, I’m posting it as a separate review. I don’t do that much lately due to not having the time but do wish I could do more posts dedicated to just one film when I really like one. I thought this was a very good film with odd & disturbing subject matter & a strong performance from Bennett. It’s one I’d be scared to actually recommend to anyone, though. Definitely not one for everyone & you’d have to be sure you’d be okay watching the character doing this dangerous thing to herself. It could be a very upsetting movie for some people due to a few uncomfortable subjects in it. As a film lover, I’m happy to see such a well made film. The director hasn’t made many films yet & I’d be interested in seeing more of his work now.
My Rating: 7.5/10
*Just like with Promising Young Woman, I’m teetering on the edge of giving this 8/10! I think I’m not as generous with my ratings now as I’ve rated stuff too highly in the past. I may still make this an 8…