This R-rated psychological thriller was a complete surprise to me. In a good way. It’s a Stepford Wives meets #Girlpower story that has you yelling at the screen and wondering what will happen next right up until its satisfying ending. Haley Bennett (Girl on the Train, The Magnificent Seven) is mesmerizing as Hunter, the gilded cage wife of a wealthy financier. She seems to have it all, but there’s definitely something missing, and she fills her days in an OCD housecleaning fog. But when she gets pregnant, she develops “pica” – the compulsion to consume inedible objects and materials. Of course there’s a deeper psychological reason for her mental state, and as the film progresses Hunter is forced to confront a dark secret to break free.
Hunter and her alpha male husband Richie (Austin Stowell of Whiplash and Bridge of Spies) live in a gorgeous house overlooking the Hudson River, out in the country. She spends all day alone, cleaning, cooking, and tending to the home fire. However, hubby’s not that attentive when he is home, though he is extremely controlling and condescending. But when she realizes she’s pregnant, and it seems she’s now considered simply a vessel for the heir to the throne, she starts ingesting objects. First a marble, then a thumb tack, and then a whole host of things one shouldn’t eat, but it’s satisfying to her because it gives her agency over her body. But when hubby’s family discovers what she’s doing, they take over her life, sending her to a psychiatrist who forces her to bring up some very painful memories. And when she continues to swallow various objects, even though they’ve hired a nurse to follow her around and keep her in check, they decide to send her to a mental hospital, and that’s the last straw. She escapes and confronts her demon head-on.
Swallow is gorgeously shot and Haley Bennett’s performance is brilliant. The intelligent script examines a woman’s autonomy in a very unexpected way. It’s an odd little film, but one I would recommend to anyone who enjoys a diverting indie flick.
(Not sure I get the R-rating (for language, some sexuality and disturbing behavior). It’s not all that disturbing or sexual.)