IT IS IN US ALL
Director: Antonia Campbell-Hughes
Talent: Cosmo Jarvis, Rhys Mannion & Claes Bang
Release Date: September 23
Cosmo Jarvis’ thrilling performance as Hamish, a Londoner visiting his mother’s hometown after the death of an aunt he never met, is all protracted tension, mumbling indifference and alienation. At least before an early car collision with two speeding teenaged boys shakes him out of who he might have been in a simpler film. Instead, we get to know Hamish in this stylised psychodrama from Irish director Antonia Campbell-Hughes through the groans and raw physicality of an injured man, one looking for answers with the conflictingly pervasive presence of the wreck’s one surviving teenager, Evan (Rhys Mannion). A strong directorial debut, the normality of this world is barely established before its protagonist is forced out of the role of detached outsider into a vulnerability that strikes as violent reawakening.
The oblique plot revolves around Hamish’s attempts to communicate from within this state of quiet desperation, from intermittent video calls to his father at his Hong Kong production office (a coolly manipulative Claes Bang) to an emerging bond with Evan over the reckless death wish we are given to imagine they both share, the vital teen and his group of friends the embodiment of the life he might have lived had his own past played out differently. Campbell-Hughes herself makes a heightened cameo as the mother of the deceased and the emotional weight of the film is centred on similar incidents of connection which are more than slightly symbolic.
For all its visual daring – the bleak cinematography of rural Donegal recalling more than once scenes from biblical painting – early plot clunkiness gives way to what is clearly the Irish director’s home ground: enigmatic, sensitive cinema. If the division between worlds is never fully resolved, the unfolding story convinces as one of connection where none should be: powerful, senseless connection, through shared pain and a shared experience of the land in the place of real belonging. Just like his audience, Hamish’s search for meaning is founded on guttural instinct more often than on logic, while the film’s human element rises above its impressive aerial slant and an appropriately eerie score by Tom Furse.
Words: Lucy Ann McCabe