Carlo Mirabella-Davis (director)
02 November 2019 (released)
It all looks perfect for Hunter (Haley Bennett); married into a wealthy family, a large house, plenty of time to spend and now pregnant. Yet there’s something wrong with this idyll as Hunter develops a compulsion to swallow strange potentially dangerous objects. From any perspective its odd but this is a known disorder; Pica though some research reveals that it’s usually more to do with iron deficiency, than mental health.
Nevertheless, it’s not hard to see how Hunter’s mental condition could manifest itself into a disorder. Her days are long and boring; much of it playing games on her mobile, her husband Richie (Austin Stowell) while superficially loving is distant and selfish, while her in-laws have little time for her. Her father in-law Michael (David Rasche) at a dinner cuts her off mid-sentence and his wife Katherine (Elizabeth Marvel) actually questions her motives for marrying Richie. Placed with some of Richard’s horrendous friends she’s treated as little more than a walking bauble at parties and the strains appear.
That it should manifest into that particular disorder is somewhat irrelevant; the objects (Starting with a marble, to pins to other strange objects that she passes and carefully collects on her dresser.) have no inherent meaning other than metaphors.
What becomes clear from the film is the domination of the patriarchy that Katherine has accepted, which Hunter tries to manage. When a baby scan reveals there are objects in her stomach the family hunker down and take charge with father paying for a shrink, Richie dutifully playing along and Hunter revealing past issues to her psychiatrist that opens up another strand to the film.
The film fixes on male entitlement and their absolute certainty of right and wrong, which is to some extent underpinned by Katherine's contrition and contentment with her dutiful lot. That could have been, and what was expected, of Hunter. But through her disorder (and it is) she actually starts to take some sort of control of her life; something that she has first and final say in, each object a small victory. As the pressure increases so the extremes become more obvious, with the family hiring a minder and Hunter determined to confront and take charge, finally lay to rest the root cause of her situation.
It’s a remarkable performance by Haley Bennett as Hunter who through her face and eyes express her deep anxiety; almost appearing to wear several masks as the pressure and circumstances change. Writer and director Carlo Mirabella-Davis has crafted a beautiful, deeply disturbing film of male manipulation and power getting pitch perfect performances from his cast.