Earwigs – Movie News | Film-News.co.uk


Lucile Hadzihalilovic (director)


15 (certificate)

114 (length)

June 10, 2022 (published)


The wet, dark orange and brown hues that dominate Earwig are only periodically interrupted by Mia’s (Romane Hemelaers) yellow cardigan, her red coat when she goes out, and at the end when a huge house is momentarily bathed in sunlight while that two of the protagonists participate in an act of body horror/sadomasochism, before the ending titles. It’s a denouement that fits a film that seems simple only to offer shots that change the viewer’s perspective, at some point, and time is a factor in Earwig.

Albert (Paul Hilton) is assigned to take care of Mia who has ice teeth. Her teeth are changed while she wears a contraption that has two small containers on either side of her mouth that siphon her saliva which is then poured into a cast and frozen while she has her new teeth fitted.

His diet is simple, his days are spent moving around what appears to be a half-abandoned house. The only sunlight coming through the smashed shutters. Albert has his collection of wine glasses to maintain and admire.

Then one day he receives a phone call and orders to get Mia ready to leave and that she has to get used to the outside world. The voice is hoarse and goes straight to the point. Mia, still barefoot, giggles at the feel of the socks and boots. Outside walking in the woods, Mia tears herself away and tries to kill herself in a river, saved by Albert and watched from a bridge by Celeste (Romola Garai).

Celeste is a waitress where Albert drinks and gets taunted by a man calling himself Traveler (Peter Van den Begin) who invites himself to drink with Albert, pushing him to the point that Albert stabs Celeste in the face.

Albert escapes (although there is no sign that the police will be called). Celeste, recovering in the hospital, is visited by Lawrence (Alex Lawther) who says he will take care of her, pays for a separate room and offers to take her to the countryside.

Albert begins to neglect Mia, eventually calling in a specialist to fix her teeth. The day arrives and they depart for their destination unaware that Celeste and Lawrence are also on the train.

There’s the look and feel of a dark fairy tale – Mia kept locked up because of her condition, mixed with body horror, heightened sexual mutilation, which seems to take place in a European city after -war. It’s dark and claustrophobic with little dialogue and characters left for the viewer to build from the flashbacks and dreams that director Lucile Hadžihalilović (her first film in English), co-wrote with Geoff Cox, (based on Brian Catling’s novel) dot the film.

It makes for a decidedly intriguing experience in that once you think you’ve grabbed the thread, it’s quickly cut, and another is untied or perhaps a hare is set off. It’s a puzzle and although the pieces fit together, they don’t necessarily form a cohesive picture.

For all the opacity of the narrative, it’s a film to savor as one of the most visually and sonically arresting films to be released in quite some time. There are long, dialogue-free treatises that rely on sound and imagery, whether it’s these people eating or living their lives, or when Albert looks at his collection of wine glasses, some with colored glass, from his point of view the camera revealing the beautiful psychedelic kaleidoscopic effect when light passes through them.

Earwig is only in theaters and is the only place to properly appreciate it.


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