The Movie Waffler SXSW 2022 Review - IT IS IN US ALL | The Movie Waffler

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SXSW 2022 Review - IT IS IN US ALL

It Is In Us All review
While visiting Ireland, an Englishman strikes up a relationship with a mysterious teenager.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Antonia Campbell-Hughes

Starring: Cosmo Jarvis, Antonia Campbell-Hughes, Rhys Mannion, Keith McErlean, Claes Bang, Mark O'Halloran

It Is In Us All poster

With her debut as writer/director, actress Antonia Campbell-Hughes throws a lot of ideas into the stew. Her film tackles the issue of identity in a two-pronged manner, exploring both national identity and sexual identity. The two often stumble over one another and at times the film's points seem obtuse, but thanks to a committed cast and some impressive atmosphere established by Campbell-Hughes and cinematographer Piers McGrail, it's always watchable.

It Is In Us All review

Cosmo Jarvis continues his convincing bid to snatch Tom Hardy's title of "The British Brando." He plays Hamish, a sort of hulking English man-child who visits his late mother's native hometown in rural Ireland following the death of his aunt. While driving down a dark country road late at night, he slams into an oncoming car, killing the teenage driver of the other vehicle. When Hamish leaves hospital, he decides to stay in Ireland for a while. Hearing stories of his mother from the locals, he begins to question the narrative his father (Claes Bang) has been spinning all his life regarding the true nature of his mother. Hamish begins to feel a kinship with his wind-beaten and rain-soaked ancestral land.


When Hamish is approached by the teenaged Evan (Rhys Mannion), a passenger in the other car who survived the crash, the two begin hanging out. They share a curious relationship, partly homoerotic, partly sinister. It's never clear just what Evan's intentions are towards the older Englishman. He appears to be either leading Hamish to his doom or to some form of enlightenment, or perhaps both. Lurking around the perimeter of the narrative is the dead boy's mother (Campbell-Hughes), though nothing is really made of this subplot.

It Is In Us All review

The two central ideas of Campbell-Hughes' film never quite coalesce into a satisfyingly coherent narrative. Hamish's reconnection with his ancestral homeland never really feels like anything more than the misty-eyed feeling a lot of British and American tourists get when they visit Ireland. More compelling is Hamish's relationship with Evan. The older man is clearly seduced by the teenage boy, but it's left ambiguous as to whether his reasons for holding back are due to his own sexual confusion or the age gap.


Neither plotline resolves itself in a rewarding manner, suggesting Campbell-Hughes may require some more practice on the writing side. As a director however she appears to have arrived fully formed. With DoP McGrail she captures the eeriness of the North West of Ireland, exploiting its vast empty spaces to chilly effect, the characters often reduced to dots on a harsh landscape.

It Is In Us All review

It's Jarvis's performance that truly keeps It Is In Us All afloat though. His physicality tells us a lot about his character's background without having to indulge in expository speeches. He stands with the rigid stiffness of someone schooled at a military academy, and he looks down his nose at everyone he meets with the air of a peasant's landlord. His interactions with his father suggest not so much a father/son relationship but something closer to that between Frankenstein and his monster. Like the monster of Shelley's tale, the more Hamish learns of his origins, the more he rebels. Campbell-Hughes' script may be clunky but her filmmaking is alive.

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