It Is In Us All ****
Starring: Cosmo Jarvis, Rhys Mannion, Antonia Campbell-Hughes
Director: Antonia Campbell-Hughes
Hamish (Jarvis – Lady Macbeth, Calm With Horses) is the supercilious heir to his father’s business empire. Following the death of his estranged aunt, he arrives in Ireland’s County Donegal to sell the house that she left to him, but en route is involved in a fatal car accident that kills a local boy. Seriously wounded, he discharges himself from hospital to find that everyone in the community knows who he is and what he did, but when seventeen year-old Evan (Mannion) - who was also involved in the accident – tries to befriend him, Hamish is torn between his current life and his roots.
Played against the stark and bleak backdrop of the northern Irish coast, the landscape is dark and brooding against cloud-heavy skies. Hauntingly terse music painfully accompanies Hamish’s mournful decline, with mud, rain and blood omnipresent in the frame. Hamish is tortured both in body and mind, with the former on stark display as he self-treats his broken limb through eye-wincing body-horror sequences, and the latter through intense moments of the camera doggedly observing his crumbled face. From the haughty poise of the opening scene, this formidable man is reduced to painful vulnerability, thanks to a knock-out performance from Jarvis.
As Hamish discovers clues to the family history that he never knew he had, he sees in Evan the life he could have lived. A seduction builds between them that neither understands, but Hamish struggles to determine whether it’s an attraction to Evan he feels, or an attraction to a life he could have had. Some very clever casting paired with unabashed editing places us in an unusual spot, however. Jarvis is, objectively, an absolute hunk of a lead – sculpted, groomed and statuesque – but it’s Evan that’s the most beguiling. We see him through Hamish’s eyes; intense, deep, brooding. Hamish might be the classic ideal of masculinity, but Evan is the more compelling.
Director Campbell-Hughes also co-stars as the dead boy’s mother, popping up as a reminder of Hamish’s festering guilt. A frantic sequence at a techno club is the film’s strongest, but paired with the simplicity of excellent actors captured skilfully against a bleak backdrop; you have a strong film drenched in visceral feeling. Its final act is slightly left wanting a narrative climax as well as an emotional one, but enough groundwork has been laid before to make that less important. A melancholic squall of austerity, this film is less a storm of emotion, but more a long hard rain.
UK Release: Out now to watch on VOD, released by Wolfe