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New Ways of Seeing: Swallow

From Amy Dotson, NWFC Director and PAM Curator, Film & New Media

Swallow
Directed by Carlo Mirabella-Davis
Swallow is available to stream online via Amazon Prime.

I have always been a sucker for a cult movie, something under the radar that feels like sharing a secret amongst friends. So I’m whispering to you now: ‘Swallow’ is astonishing. When I read the script a few years back, my jaw dropped clean open. When I saw the movie, I fist-pumped the air that such a unique vision had come to life without compromise. As the film’s distributor IFC Films states, ‘a provocative and squirm-inducing psychological thriller, ‘Swallow’ follows one woman’s unraveling as she struggles to reclaim independence in the face of an oppressive system by whatever means possible.’ Hunter (a star-making turn by Haley Bennett—look for her at the Oscars in 2021, trust me) portrays a newly pregnant housewife slowly cracking under the pressure of others—particularly her perfectionist husband and inlaws’ controlling expectations. To cope, Hunter begins compulsively swallowing inedible, and oftentimes life-threatening, objects. And that’s just the beginning… Part Todd Haynes, part ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ with a dash of ‘Mad Men’ thrown in for good measure, this wholly original look at the pressures women face—from themselves and the world around them—puts a whole new spin on women’s oppression, control, and independence. You’ll never look at push pins the same way again.