EPIC PICTURES (2020)
Director: Dean Kapsalis
Starring: Azura Skye, Bryce Pinkham, Ashley Bell, Zach Rand
In recent years, we’ve seen a few hard-hitting movies that deal with mental illness – think The Babadook and, very recently, Relic – with each using their own allegories and metaphors to deliver their intended messages. The latest addition to that list comes in the form of The Swerve – a movie that sees a seemingly regular woman going through her life in safe spaces whilst grappling with crippling mental health issues and insomnia.
Dean Kapsalis’ debut feature The Swerve dropped at the right time for me. The weather outside is glum, wet and autumn is most definitely here and the general mood of this movie is pretty much the same. The Swerve is a heavy dive into mental illness, psyche, abandonment and brutal loneliness – Kapsalis pulls no punches in his depiction and the frankly incredible performance from Azura Skye (as Holly) amplified the characters emotional state to a level that may have fallen flat in lesser hands. It displays Holly’s slow, spiralling descent into the darkness as small adjustments in her life have seismic effects and will undoubtedly be a tough watch for many.
That said, The Swerve still manages to remain entirely watchable, thanks in part to the performances, but also due to Kapsalis’ assured direction. The movie feels tight and competently assembled – the frosty colour scheme perfectly matching what’s unravelling on-screen - and the excellent accompanying score from Mark Korven is aptly uncomfortable. However, I found there to be a certain spark missing. Skye’s performance is immaculate – disconcerting, inappropriate, yearning and high on emotion – but The Swerve is missing that certain something to really elevate it to excellent levels. Maybe it is the lack of any hope or light - which the movie never promises to deliver on as this is a raw depiction of the struggles and toll of mental illness – but whilst watching I found myself expecting the movie to shift a gear into a different territory that never arrived.
There isn’t much comfort to be sourced from The Swerve and it won’t appeal to everyone’s tastes but it is a very decent offering and remains a harrowing depiction of mental illness.
September 27th 2020