Hunter is the perfect looking wife with the perfect looking husband. Their appearance and home seem like cardboard cutouts from a catalog. While Hunter and Richie seem like a happy couple it becomes clear that Hunter is a non entity in her marriage. She is quiet and when she does speak up she is instantly ignored. Swallow (2019), through a vivid use of both beautiful and hideous imagery, shows how maybe a girl really can have it all if she pretends to want what life throws at her.
Hunter is played by Haley Bennett and she gives a masterful performance channeling the young eager housewife Rosemary Woodhouse of Rosemary’s Baby and the quiet, trusting nature of the narrator in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”. Innocent looking and childlike, Hunter is told what she wants out of life. Richie, played by Austin Stowell , is the embodiment of entitlement and he is also great in his role. Rich and handsome, it is clear he has never gone without having his needs and wants met. His parents are very involved in his marriage and often intercede on his behalf to help manage Hunter.
Written and directed by Carlo Mirabella-Davies, the film illustrates Hunter’s struggle for control through a pica disorder. The interesting thing about her condition is that she is attracted to items that seem to shine for. Ice, marbles, thumbtacks, they seem to sparkle for her. The colors, the framing, and direction, make the entire film seem as fragile and pretty as the life she leads. Yet, they are juxtaposed with some very grim and often disgusting imagery adding layers to the character’s psyche.
Swallow covers a lot of themes ranging from mental illness to forgiveness. It shines a light on issues that tend to get swept under the rug for the sake of appearances. Darkly humorous at times, Swallow is a stylish film about finding one’s autonomy.
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