It Is In Us All (
directed by Antonia Campbell-Hughes )
starring Cosmo Jarvis, Rhys Mannion
Hamish (Jarvis) arrives from London to Donegal to a view a property he has been left by the aunt he never met. His intention perhaps to seek a connection with his dead mother who had been born in the area and grown up in the house. Before he can reach his destination he is involved in a car crash which finds him hospitalized and then is given the news that one of the two teenage boys in the other car has died. On his release from hospital Hamish decides to stay in his aunt’s house and is visited by Evan (Mannion) the survivor of the crash and meets the mother of the dead boy at a memorial service. He realizes that the story of own his mother is not exactly as his father had lead him to believe. As the days pass the wilderness and the very essence of his spiritual homeland seem to seep into Hamish’s psyche. He grows closer to Evan who by turns seems to be both taunting and seducing the increasingly emotionally fragile Hamish.
Irish actor Antonia Campbell-Hughes’ debut as writer/director is an enigmatic and elliptical mood movie that uses the structure of the psychological thriller to investigate ideas of, in part, sexuality but more so the hidden wreckage of a man who has seemingly never been allowed to connect with anybody on an emotional level. Jarvis initially plays Hamish as an uptight and fastidious urbanite out of his comfort zone. It’s an intense performance in which the actor appears so repressed and highly strung that when, after the accident, his injured arm literally splits open it seems inevitable - an explicit body horror manifesting his mental fragility. The film is beautifully shot throughout by Piers McGrail who uses the atmospheric landscape to its full advantage with scenes of wild desolation juxtaposed with beautifully lit and often claustrophobic interior sequences.
The antagonistic relationship between Hamish and Evan dances with meaning that never really resolves nor is it focused enough to elicit much more than just the idea of an emotional response. Campbell-Hughes script is often infuriatingly vague. Not that there is a need to be explicit just that, even in the shadows, there is sometimes a need to shape the material so its intent, its hidden meaning, is more clearly suggested rather than allowed to dissipate half-realised. Likewise the occasional appearance of the dead boy’s mother (played by Campbell-Hughes herself) ghosting the idea of Hamish’s own unobtainable mother is never fully explored. And perhaps there is something in here too about England and Ireland. About colonial guilt. In the way that Hamish’s speech patterns and rigid, public schooled demeanour is undone by the charm of rural youth.
The film was awarded a special jury award for “Extraordinary Cinematic Vision” at SXSW and it was a worthy winner. It is intriguing, sometimes mystifying and perhaps in the end just a little too uncertain in execution to be considered a total success all that said it is bold filmmaking that deserves attention.
Main image Cosmo Jarvis as Hamish
Film still – It Is In Us All
It Is In Us All premiered at SXSW
Kirk Lake is a writer, musician and filmmaker. His published books include Mickey The Mimic (2015) and The Last Night of the Leamington Licker (2018). His films include the feature films Piercing Brightness (2014) and The World We Knew (2020) and a number of award winning shorts.
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