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Short Film Review: Wasp by Andrea Arnold

By Archana Iyer • Published on July 11, 2012

[M]otherhood is many things – sublime, selfless, divine. But what happens when motherhood is forced by circumstance, grimed with poverty and stripped bare of a providing husband? Wasp is the stark look at such motherhood. Young and juvenile Zoe is a single mother to four children in modern day Britain. Impoverished and alone, she has her own way of dealing with her life and children.

Being young, she has her own desires and has been deprived of the carefree joys that women her age are often used to. She also lacks the comforting support of a husband. When she runs into her childhood crush who is asking her out; bare feet and night gown clad, she is utterly pleased by the chance of going out with him. She and her daughters even make a joke about it by comparing her mom and the man to Victoria and David Beckham; the most idolized couple in Britain. She is caught between her desire to go out on the date and the compulsion to be with her kids. She lies to David that she has been taking care of someone else’s children and will come meet him. She dresses up to please him and makes her children wait outside the bar while she savors few hours of a long yearned romantic encounter with her childhood sweetheart. A sudden wasp attack wrecks the date and makes her realize her folly.

Each child’s performance is brilliant and they all have unique caricatures to portray. The oldest one becomes the surrogate mother and takes care of the children in Zoe’s absence. The one younger to her is silent and visibly sad. The blonde kid has a doll like innocence about her; and is constantly obsessed with eating at McDonalds. The baby in the pram is the helpless little one who becomes the fearful victim of the wasp attack.

The short film also depicts the poverty faced by the family in a very realistic manner. When David makes Zoe pay for the drinks, she chooses to sacrifice her breezer so that her kids can have chips and coke. The hungry kids pick up food off the streets while their mother is away.

The film is shot with a shaky hand held camera; which makes the film highly realistic. The song ‘be my girl’ runs through the film and represents the conflicting mother and girl inside Zoe. The close-up shots brilliantly capture the emotional struggle of the mother and the innocence of the children.  This short film directed by Andrea Arnold won the Oscar for best live action short in 2003. The film is worth its 23 minutes runtime.

Wasp by Andrea Arnold from MrGreatShortFilms on Vimeo.

Archana Iyer is a Short film enthusiast, scriptwriter, poet and account planner in an ad agency.

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