Tracker Pixel for Entry

Foreign Objects: “Swallow” a Convincing Debut for Mirabella-Davis

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Cinema | April 26th, 2020

Carlo Mirabella-Davis’s noteworthy feature debut as writer-director examines, with a degree of precision and deliberateness that would impress Alfred Hitchcock, the actions of a young woman who consumes inedible objects as a way to attain some measure of control in her suffocating marriage to a wealthy man. The disorder, identified in the DSM-V as pica, includes subtypes categorized by the eating of specific non-nutritional items ranging from glass to stones to soil to sharp objects. As a title, “Swallow” reverberates with several meanings -- among them an allusion to the protagonist’s potentially harmful ingestions and the indignities she must suffer under the humiliating surveillance of her husband’s parents.

Producer and star Haley Bennett’s performance is career-best work. In collaboration with Mirabella-Davis, Bennett endows her Hunter Conrad with empathy and humanity that will bring even the most reluctant and skeptical viewers to an understanding of the need to feel a sense of accomplishment, even one far outside the realm of cultural appropriateness. The majority of the movie is spent in close and intimate proximity to Hunter. Sometimes, the viewer is invited to her most private rituals, including the collection of small things that Hunter retrieves after they have passed out of her body.

At other times, we see Hunter in the company of others. These scenes are initially marked by the inconsiderate and rude manner in which Hunter is constantly ignored, talked over, diminished, dismissed, and disrespected. Past and present collide in the construction of Hunter as the contemporary equivalent of a mid-century, “trophy wife” homemaker -- underscored by the pregnancy that reduces her to a vessel. Entitled spouse Richie (Austin Stowell) may or may not have a mistress in the city, but Hunter is another kind of odalisque: a slave and captive in her own gilded cage.

Mirabella-Davis uses the central location -- a modernist Hudson Valley dwelling designed by architect Robert J. Dupont and filled with perfect touches and objects selected and arranged by production designer Erin Magill -- with bold flourishes that emphasize Hunter’s increasingly worrisome isolation from human contact outside the tiny circle of coddled Richie and overbearing in-laws. Richie’s parents, we learn, gave the home to their son and his wife as a gift, a fact which suggests that Hunter is an interloper or pretender who does not really belong as a true member of the family and does not deserve the opulence and wealth surrounding her.

Later, Hunter will establish precarious relationships with others. One, which is performed by the superb, indispensable Denis O’Hare and sets up the shattering final scenes, is best left for the viewer to discover. A seemingly helpful therapist, played by Zabryna Guevara, may not necessarily abide by the ethical standards of her profession, and a hulking Syrian (Laith Nakli) retained by Richie’s family as a sitter/minder/nurse will also upend expectations. These relationships all affect Hunter in increasingly important ways, and while many reviewers have argued that “Swallow” could or should be classified as a horror film, Mirabella-Davis engineers a perfect final shot that suggests there can be light on the other side of darkness.

Recently in:

By the time this article is published, all the major new outlets in the area will have reported on the May 30th protest in Fargo demanding change and justice after the needless killing of George Floyd, as well as its aftermath. …

by Sonja ThompsonDebra Ruh is the CEO and Founder of Ruh Global IMPACT, a consulting firm that strives to help clients amplify their impact and become disability inclusion leaders. She also serves as the Chair of the United…

Best Bets

Ladies Ag Night

by HPR Staff

Thursday, March 19, 4:30- 8 pm1609 19th Ave N, FargoCass County Soil Conservation District is hosting their annual Ladies’ Ag Night supper event. This event has a goal of bringing together multiple generations of women involved…

by Sofia Makarova and Massimo Sassi The global pandemic is an incredibly challenging time for many. Nearlyone in every three Americans’ jobs have been affected, whether a temporary layoff, a permanent job loss, or a reduction in…

Predatory Capitalism Breeds Predatory Medical CareSurvival in the animal world depends upon who eats who. Wolf packs in Yellowstone chase down the oldest weakest elk and kill with a chokehold. African lion prides select the oldest…

To say that this year’s Bartenders Battle was the best display of talent in the six years since its creation would be an understatement and a disservice to not only the bartenders who made it into the competition, but also the…

It goes without saying that Valentine’s Day is the most profitable of all the holidays and the one with the most tortured history, literally. It is confusing how an ancient Roman festival that involved sacrificing animals and…

Fargo obviously loves their classical music. Audiences have still turned out during the 2019-2020 season of the Sanford Masterworks Series performed by the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra despite an unrelenting winter. That…

Writer Rita Kalnejais adapts the script of her own 2012 play “Babyteeth,” and Shannon Murphy, delivering her feature directorial debut, guides a fantastic ensemble of performers to success in what could have been an…

This weekend, the 10th Annual Unglued Craft Fest will be held at the Plains Art Museum, featuring over 70 local and regional artists selling handmade items. Though most are Fargo-Moorhead residents, artists from Minneapolis, Sioux…

Theatre

Fargo Film Festival 2020

by HPR Contributor

by Dominic EricksonThis March, the Fargo Film Festival will celebrate its 20th year of entertaining die-hard cinephiles and casual moviegoers alike. The festival begins on March 17 and concludes March 21. The event is once again…

by Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comAdam Quesnell's last show at The Cellar beneath the Front Street Taproom in Fargo was in early September of 2018. He was embarking on a seminal move from Minneapolis to LA. As always, his comedy was…

by Jill Finkelsonjsfinkelson99@gmail.comFar North Spirits, located up in Hallock, MN, is the northernmost distillery in the lower 48. They may be young in the distillery world but the farm and the spirit reach far into the past.…

Wellness

Discover Yoga Differently

by HPR Contributor

by Laurie J Bakeremsdatter@gmail.com Part of modern yoga is participating in the world around us. We live in a time of upheaval in society and nature, and of great suffering in humans of all ages. Most of us perceive this suffering…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

"…evil appears as good in the minds of those whom god leads to destruction." - Sophocles, Antigone“It is a mistake…as events since September 11 (2001) have shown—to suppose that a government can promote and participate in a…