Film Review: Earwig

Mia has special teeth

There are many elements which go into making a successful film. While cinematography always features highly in critical assessments, some of the other technical components are often overlooked. Unless they’ve been done badly, that is. Good sound design, for Instance, can make a film stand out from the crowd. Especially if your audience has the benefit of surround sound. Earwig is a prime example of how to use it well in order to create atmosphere.  

Set somewhere in a post-war Europe, the taciturn Albert (Paul Hilton) is employed to look after Mia (Romane Hemelaers), a rather unusual young girl. She has teeth made of ice and is closeted away in the dark apartment, starved of natural light and stimuli. Albert’s master contacts him regularly to enquire about her wellbeing. Their days pass slowly in boring routine until one day he’s instructed to prepare her to depart.

Earwig tells a story which is shrouded in mystery. We’re kept in the dark throughout, with just hints and glimpses of a possible truth. The waters are further muddied by the appearance of Laurence (Alex Lawther) and Céleste (Romola Garai) and their strange relationship. Director Lucile Hadzihalilovic, in her first English-language film, keeps the connection between the quintet secret. Using crisp and clear sound design and haunting visuals, while Earwig might be a little too enigmatic for some, it’s a fascinating and darkly disquieting fable. Tinged throughout with a creeping sense of dread.

Earwig is released in UK cinemas on 10 June.

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