A Gross yet Beautiful Thought-Provoking Thriller
Riveting, unnerving and brilliant, those three words perfectly encapsulate Carlos Mirabella-Davis' first solo feature 'Swallow'.
After being recently married into a rich family and becoming pregnant, Hunter develops "pica", the compulsion to eat substances not typically considered food. But as her husband and hyper-critical family-in-law tighten their control over her life, she must face her dark secret behind the new obsession.
Mirabella-Davis does a fantastic job exploring the eating disorder while never making the scenes in which Hunter swallows an item such as a thumbtack or the aftermath of said decision feel exploitative or there for the sake of shock. It's expertly and subtly used to help convey the feminist themes and the idea of control over one's self. Even though these scenes aren't exploitative, they are certainly gross to watch and the possibility of you liking this movie or not heavily relies on you being able to sit through several scenes featuring the injection of indigestible items followed by uncomfortable scenes of Hunter's repercussions.
Haley Bennett gives one of the best performances of the year thus far as Hunter. The nuances -- having a soft and quiet voice to portray that other people around her have high authority and the way she reacts and delivers lines in major moments as if things aren't as big of a deal as they actually are -- adds to her character in the best possible way.
The further the movie goes on, the more is revealed about Hunter's past and the more the audience are given an insight into why she does the things she does. Which leads to an interesting complex on whether who we should be siding with: Hunter or her family-in-law.
Katelin Arizmendi's cinematography is simply incredible. Not only is it well-shot and very arthouse-esque but she does an amazing job showing the characters' perspectives and situations from their point of view.
With a powerful lead performance from Bennett, an intriguing story and excellent direction Mirabella-Davis, the thought-provoking and unforgettable 'Swallow' is undeniably one of the best movies of 2020 so far.