Be pleasant with people is exhausting. You’re constantly worried about how someone is thinking or feeling; try to do everything that is at your fingertips to make sure you are happy, and it scares you absolutely the idea that someone is upset. No matter why you are angry; if you are upset, you feel like a failure. Often, to please people is an effect of trauma, as you have been programmed to expect you to be the cause of the unhappiness of someone. No matter who is speaking or who is in your life, this trauma is still in every interaction. This is the life of Hunter in Carlo Mirabella-Davis’ Swallow.
In swallow Haley Bennet he plays Hunter, a housewife who has married into an extremely wealthy family. With that wealth comes a certain set of expectations and standards, ranging from the length of your hair to the way she dresses and how to get mental health services. She is a beautiful puppet blonde who is constantly reminded that without him and his money, she is nothing. She has no talent, has no wealth, so you must comply with all and each one of the orders or risk being thrown to the streets.
Then, Hunter lee self-help books and does all she can to find solace in his new life. One of those coping mechanisms is to swallow items such as marbles, thumbtacks and batteries. The act of swallowing these objects is something that she is doing it for herself; no one else is telling you what to do. It is a small luxury, or so you think, something you can do without her husband, Richie (Austin Stowell), knowing or watching. This small act of rebellion, a control that is slipping constantly on the tips of the fingers.
However, the illusion of control begins to fade when she discovers that she is pregnant. Of course, her husband celebrates her pregnancy when he exclaims “we’re pregnant” and sees this as another thing that you can do about yourself and about your family. But, as seen in films like Rosemary’s Baby, the pregnancy is often used as an exploitation of the female body. Women become a vessel for the son of a man and, with luck, the heir. She is just a body to carry the precious cargo, something that only you are protected and taken care of by necessity until the baby is born. In Rosemary’s Baby, the baby was the literal son of Satan. In Swallow, the baby is more symbolic of the mess of a family evil, but still represents the control that you have his family on the life of Hunter.
When Richie discovers the appetite of a Hunter so that’s not edible, you must take drastic measures. Your child must be protected and will do anything to ensure their safety. Make No mistake, any assistance given to Hunter is only provided to help the baby. She is medicated, you are given a carer, against his will, and carry it reluctantly therapy. For him, the therapy is out of your control and it is a place where you can’t dictate every thought. It is a place for her to express themselves freely and that is what terrifies.
However, through therapy, it reveals something much more profound and traumatic: Hunter was conceived when his mother was raped. She cheerfully explains the story to his therapist, entering into details about who his father is, how they raped your mother and how long he was in prison. While explaining this, she also continues to minimize the effect that this information has had on your life. However, Hunter has offered an explanation of their actions and can be better understood; this was not just an event that happened and not determined who she was. His whole life was marked by a single, horrible act of violence, and she wants to avoid that fact as much as possible.
If your mother does not appear in the film, Hunter tries to quickly explain how happy he was with his mother, his stepfather and their new sisters. But through that shiny layer of a perfect family, Hunter slowly revealed how isolated he was from his family. Growing up, Hunter does not want anything more than your mother to love her, regardless of how it was conceived. She has spent her life trying to make people happy and make that love it despite of everything else. She is a person willing chronic due to your own negligence when I was a child, and that is reflected in their romantic relationships
But as Hunter removed the layers of his trauma, he begins to recognize the cycles of abuse that has been trapped in all his life. For so long has been focused on making others happy instead of herself. Swallowing was the only thing that made her happy. Now she seeks more than a marble clandestine; she seeks liberation.
Liberation for Hunter is presented in the form of abortion, done with the ingestion symbolic of a pill. Hunter has swallowed objects, to exercise control, and this final scene of swallowing is the ultimate act of autonomy and rebellion of the body. Abortion, in Swallow, it is ultimately an act of empowerment, one that has been released to Hunter. Your abortion frees them of the cycle of abuse perpetrated by her own mother. While Hunter was conceived in rape, and her child was conceived presumably on a consensual basis, the child is still a life that can never be herself. This is a girl that represents the guilt and regret, and does not want another child to experience a life of resentment. In addition, the baby, if you had been born, it would have been a form of currency, a piece of capital used by your husband to dictate your actions. Hunter takes control of his own narrative through abortion, doing what his mother did not.
While this is not a movie focused on the politics of abortion, it shows abortion as a power and as a form of exercising control over one’s body. Abortion is the ultimate act of control Hunter, to get away from the abuse. Mark your beginning to move towards a life in which she does what makes her happy. Swallow is the painful journey of Hunter to that realization, as well as a reflection on how difficult it can be to reach that realization. The female body is often a field of battle, and Hunter found a way to win their war.
Swallow is now available on VOD.