SXSW FILM FESTIVAL 2022 REVIEW! Antonia Campbell-Hughes makes her narrative feature-length debut with It Is In Us All. The dramatic thriller stars Cosmo Jarvis as Hamish, who is in Ireland for the first time. Sadly, he’s not visiting the country for pleasure, as his aunt died and left him her house. As Hamish gets ever closer to Donegal, the town where his deceased mother was born, a car going the wrong way on the road smashes head-on into his rental.
Hamish wakes up the next day in the hospital to the news that he has a fractured arm and the other driver, a teenage boy, died. The doctor wants to keep the young man for observation for a few days. However, his father, Jack (Claes Bang), seems more concerned about getting his son home for financial reasons than over the injuries he received.
But, Hamish has business to attend to in town, though the dead boy’s mother, Clara (Anontia Campbell-Hughes), is angry that he is still there. Interestingly, the passenger in the other car, Evan (Rhys Mannion), wants to get to know him, and the two eventually bond. However, Hamish’s apathetic outlook on life chafes against the teen’s zeal for everything the world offers. Now, as he wanders the town, facing his past demons, dark family secrets threaten to swallow Hamish and everything he thought he knew about his upbringing whole.
“…Hamish’s apathetic outlook on life chafes against the teen’s zeal for everything…”
The first thing anyone watching It Is In Us All will notice is how bloody great-looking it is. Director of photography Piers McGrail (who worked on the cute short Stuffed) plays with shadows in interesting ways. The DP keeps Hamish in the darkest part of the frames as often as possible, visually reflecting the broken man’s dark past. A scene wherein Evan and his pals do a little dance by a roaring fire is beautiful. The editing, courtesy of John Walters, is also exquisite, as he finds the right pace for the story to play out.
Jarvis, who’s had minor roles in some well-known titles, deserves to break out in a big way based on his performance here. He plays the bitterness of Hamish with the right amount of calm versus anger, making for an empathetic, if despondent and broken, protagonist. Campbell-Hughes is just as captivating as the grief-stricken mother, unsure how to react to recent events. Mannion is compelling as the energetic youth looking to connect with the other survivor of the crash. Their chemistry is strong, properly playing into their conflicting outlooks on life.
Storywise, Campbell-Hughes ably plays audiences like a harp. The plot often lulls those watching into a false sense of complacency before upending the expected resolution. In this way, the filmmaker keeps the narrative fresh and unpredictable through the bitter end.
It Is In Us All is a fascinating look at what breaks a person and the things that can mend them. The visual palette and editing perfectly capture the themes Campbell-Hughes is playing with. Cosmo Jarvis turns in a star-making performance and is matched beat for beat by the rest of the cast. Due to its high intensity, the thriller isn’t the most rewatchable, but it still deserves to be experienced and discussed by all cinephiles.
It Is In Us All screened at the 2022 SXSW Film Festival.
"…fresh and unpredictable..."