wed 19/06/2024

Blu-ray: Earwig | reviews, news & interviews

Blu-ray: Earwig

Blu-ray: Earwig

Lucile Hadžihalilović's surreal drama is not for the dentally challenged

Her daily teeth: Roman Hemelaers in 'Earwig'Anti-Worlds

Even more than David Lynch, to whom her work has been compared, director Lucile Hadžihalilović is a strange agent between this world and the dreamworld.

From her debut feature, Innocence, an adaptation of Frank Wedekind’s symbolist novel about pre-adolescent girls who undergo rigorous training to prepare them for (or protect them from) the perils of womanhood, Lucile Hadžihalilović forged a daring path into the unknown. 

With her first English-language feature, she journeys even further. Told this time from the perspective of an adult, Earwig – based on the experimental novel by B Catling – focuses on a tormented WW1 veteran (Paul Wilton), who is charged with the care of a mute young girl (Romane Hemelaers). For some unknown reason, she has no adult teeth. 

On the orders of unseen “masters”, the man forges daily sets of frozen water-and-saliva dentures that allow the child to eat. (These choppers come by way of a David Cronenbergian orthodonture device that will have viewers squirming.)

What’s the reason for all this dental trauma? Judging from the anguish on the man’s face, he’s afraid not to administer the temporary teeth. But whom does he fear more: his unseen bosses or the little girl, whom he treats as kindly as a daughter, even as he prevents her from leaving their flat? 

More mysteries emerge as the pair embark on a journey that has something to do with an ominous painting that fascinates the girl – a painting that changes slightly change every time we see it. Despite its oblique, even bizarre effect, Earwig is an unforgettably haunting film experience.

The limited edition Blu-ray features a full-length documentary about Brian Catling, with generous footage of his long career as an artist, filmmaker, and performance artist. Though acclaimed for his novels, he is more effusive about his artistic process than his writing.

Lucile Hadžihalilović, interviewed for a print Q&A and short film feature, addresses creative question that a curious viewer might wonder about – including the provenance of the movie’s eerie, ever-changing painting. Even more illuminating is an archival film about the Cristal Baschet, the musical instrument behind Augustin Viard’s hypnotic score. 

Despite its oblique, even bizarre effect, 'Earwig' is an unforgettably haunting film experience

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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