Wasp (2003) (Unrated)
This review contains SPOILERS!
"Wasp" is the Academy Award winning short film from writer/director Andrea Arnold. Off of the success of the Oscar win, Arnold would later make the critically heralded "Fish Tank"...which, to be perfectly honest, I haven't seen.
"Wasp" is a movie that is nice to look at and way too easy to hate—which is what happened with my viewing experience. What the movie lacks more than anything else is a relatable and empathetic main character.
Zoë is a single mother of four kids who is raising them in the poor part of the town. This family has nothing to eat, only moldy bread and the remnants of a snack. Zoë has three daughters, aged nine to three approximately, and one little boy who is still an infant.
"Wasp" begins as Zoë drags her children out of their apartment, down the street, and has them watch as she marches up to the front step of a building. Pounding on the door until someone answers, Zoë jumps on the woman who opens the door and the two tumble to the ground while their children are watching. They pull each others hair and scream obscenities at each other—what is this accomplishing? and why are they doing this?
The other lady is twice Zoë's size, so the fight doesn't last long. When she is let us, Zoë screams at the lady not to ever hit her kids again...ah, so that's it.
The lady threatens to reports Zoë, telling her that she will most definitely have her kids taken away. So Zoë tells her three daughters the only natural thing a mother would do in this situation, on the count of three turn around and make a hand gesture at the lady...which they all do.
So far, I see nothing that I like besides the jostling camera work that typifies the unsettling surroundings we find ourselves in. You can shrug off Zoë's parenting by saying that it's just cultural and economical...and indeed, you may have a point. Some people don't seem to be made out with maternal instincts and Zoë is the queen of these people.
On the way home from the conflict, an old heartthrob (thought to be in the military) pulls aside and talks to Zoë for a minute. She tells the man, Dave, that she doesn't have any children and that she is babysitting for a friend.
Can he come by a pick her up later for drinks?
Sure, why not? It's not like she had any other obligations like feeding her kids or anything.
So dressing provocatively and telling her starving children to shut up, Zoë dashes off the the pub to meet Dave. Upon arrival at the pub, she dumps her kids at the back and tells them to not go anywhere and then runs inside to continue her escapades of deceit and manipulation.
The kids sit outside for hours with no food, and everyone starts to fear the worst.
In a moment of interesting interaction, when Zoë is outside telling her kids to calm down, her oldest daughter asks her is she is going to sleep with Dave. Zoë is stunned for a moment, have no fear, she tells the daughter to shut up and mind her own business...what a lovely mother.
This is the problem: "Wasp" creates great tension between mother and children, yet realistically no good could come of this situation. Yet somehow "Wasp" tries to pull off a happy ending.
Though I hated Zoë so much, "Wasp" could have been a story about her children...alas, it's not.
A happy ending, a weak script, and an unattractive premise don't make a movie...just because you have nice cinematography doesn't mean you can put anything you want on screen.
Score: 1 out of 4 stars
Posted by Micah Jones