It Is In Us All is a strange and mystical film debut by Antonia Campbell-Hughes. held together by Cosmo Jarvis’s extraordinarily visceral central performance, set against awe-inspiring, massive Irish landscapes.
The Descent of Manby Alexa Dalby
CAUTION: Here be spoilers
Hamish Considine (a tightly coiled Jarvis, a well-to-do Londoner in a company owned by his Hong Kong-based father visible only on Skype (Claes Bang)) arrives in Donegal to see the isolated, seaside house left to him by his aunt Tara, his mother’s sister, before he sells it. On the deserted road there, he crashes his hired BMW and kills the teenage alleged driver of the other car, Calum.
Hamish survives the crash with a fractured arm, which he carries painfully throughout the film. The graphically experienced physical injury mirrors his mental unravelling as the past rears up to hit him as well: people in the village remember his mother with her young boy and, to his surprise, treat him almost as a returnee, prompting thoughts of what he would have been if he had stayed.
He stays alone and uncomfortably in the empty house and is befriended obsessively by the other survivor of the crash, 17-year-old Evan (an assured Rhys Mannion), who recognises him at Calum’s funeral. They are united in their knowledge of what really happened the night of the accident. There are two out-of-this-world dancing scenes – one with local boys solemnly practising a routine to Christina Aguilera’s ‘Genie in a Bottle’ and one where Hamish and Evan dance together to electronic music and strobe lighting as if in a furious exorcism.
Calum’s grief-stricken and accusatory mother (played by writer and director Antonia Campbell-Hughes) is another contributory strand in the breakdown of Hamish’s sense of self, masculinity, family, grief, life, death – everything, in fact.
It Is In Us All is a haunting film with a brooding sense of dread created by Jarvis’s performance, the atmospheric music and the stunning cinematography that both release the latent menace of the wild, remote country and coast. You get the sense that great depth of meaning has been compressed in a rather short running time – rather like the self-destructive changes that are triggered in Hamish’s life. It Is In Us All is an intriguing, impressive but slightly flawed, first film, dedicated to the writer/director’s father, that will stay with you long afterwards.
It Is In Us All premiered at SXSW and Edinburgh and is released on 23 September 2022 in the UK.