Title: The Swerve
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated
Director: Dean Kapsalis
Starring: Azura Skye, Ashley Bell, Zach Rand
Runtime: 1 hr 35 mins
What Is Is: Holly (Skye), mother of 2 kids and wife to a loving and successful husband (Bryce Pinkham), silently suffers from insomnia. Unfortunately, she starts to succumb to her stressed and nerve-wracked persona.
What We Think: This film serves as a fantastic thriller, but also as a reminder of how important it is to check if someone is okay (this film would’ve gone a lot differently if that were the case) and to address mental illness. The story itself is very simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s mediocre in any way. It felt like picking at a scab: you want to keep doing it, even when it may hurt a little. When that scab finally falls off, the story bleeds out some truly riveting moments. There are sequences that made my heart drop and my skin crawl, as well as cringe at some of the intense (and sometimes awkward) situations our main character is put into.
Speaking of main characters, the performance from Azura Skye is nothing short of enthralling. She embodies the role of someone on the verge of a mental breakdown who is also covering it up with a painful smile, and it’s one of the film’s greatest strengths. She stands out in every scene she’s in, and there’s one scene in particular that had me entranced with the pure, raw emotion she displayed. One of the best performances I’ve seen all year, and a captivating one at that. Of course, the rest of the cast does a good job as well, but Skye’s performance is extraordinary.
The film is also shot beautifully. The lighting is absolutely gorgeous, and the camera’s movement adjusts to how intense each scene plays out, from smooth dollies to harrowing handhelds, there’s really great cinematography here. The musical score by Mark Korven is absolutely gut-wrenching and beautifully distressing. I loved his scores for The Witch and The Lighthouse, and in this film, he delivers once again.
The editing is pretty good as well, but that leads me to one of the issues I have with the film: it’s pacing. Its duration is 95 minutes, but it felt like 2 hours. The first half may be the main reason why I felt this way. It definitely takes its time, but it overstays just a tad. Also, a couple of scenes felt like they ended a bit too early (not necessarily a negative), I wish there were a couple of scenes that had gone on for a little bit longer to give the characters more depth.
Our Grade: B+: Dean Kapsalis brings us a truly enrapturing thriller, with a groundbreaking performance by Azura Skye, gorgeous cinematography, and a fantastic soundtrack by Mark Korven. Highly recommended!