Coming to theatres from writer/director Carlo Mirabello-Davis and IFC Films comes the story of perception, perfection and trauma with SWALLOW.
Hunter Conrad (Haley Bennett) is a young woman married to successful husband Richie (Austin Stowell). Moving into a new home, she wants everything to be perfect for him. Richie works for his successful father Michael (David Rasche) while Hunter spends moments with mother-in-law Katherine (Elizabeth Marvel).
Never quite sure of her status in the family, Hunter cooks dinners, always looks spot on perfect and lets everyone else do the talking. When Katherine gives her a book that suggests Hunter try something different in life – she does.
Starting to swallow small objects, it becomes something she can’t control and to make matters worse, Hunter discovers she is pregnant. Of course, Richie and his parents are thrilled with the new addition but have no idea what is actually happening.
When she is discovered, her life becomes even more complicated than before being diagnosed with a disorder called Pica. Seeing a therapist, Hunter still isn’t sure who she is and avoids serious issues. She tries to keep her life beautiful but Richie and parents aren’t making it easy.
The problem is that the issues are right below the surface and it’s time Hunter took her own life in a direction of healing, but it isn’t going happen without great cost.
Bennett as Hunter is absolutely stunning and even those words don’t seem to give her the accolades she deserves. Her character is such a haunted and tortured soul and with every move Bennett makes, it comes through frame by frame of film. There isn’t a moment Bennett doesn’t test us to go through the story with her without literally guttural reactions – and I had a few.
Stowell as Richie is a husband who is use to the good life and with his parents help continues to have the good life. Hunter is his arm candy to round out his perfect life. He is detached from what is happening to his wife because it’s easier to let everyone else deal with it.
Marvel as Katherine is that mother-in-law who takes swipes with a smile on her face. No one is ever going to be good enough for her son and she doesn’t mind saying so in her own unique way. Rasche as Michael is a man who knows what he wants and doesn’t mind controlling everyone and everything around him – that includes his wife, son and daughter-in-law.
Other cast include: Maya Days as Dr. Santos, Elise Santora as Dr. Reyes, Laith Nakli as Luay, and Denis O’Hare as Erwin.
SWALLOW is an intense and emotional film about a woman who lives under the umbrella of perfection. In doing so she continues to stuff her past further down and convinces herself that life perfection is the only way to survive.
This is a difficult film to watch at times yet important to watch as well. Pica is a serious disorder that can lead to iron-deficiency and anemia. Items that are ingested are non-food items and there are there are many treatments available for those who suffer from Pica. For more information please visit www.nationaleatingdisorders.org.
Bennett carries the film with a demeanor that is soft and demure but there are moments where I see Hunter wants to just spill everything out. She is mesmerizing and I’ll say it again, stunning to watch. Carrying a film is difficult in itself but I can’t imagine the story being told without Bennett telling it.
In the end – open up.