Film Review: THE WASP (Directed by Gulliem Morales; World Premiere at Tribeca Film Festival)

by Kevin Vavasseur on June 15, 2024

in Film

WASP TRAP

Heather and Carla, two English girls who were friends in middle school, reunite after years apart. Now in their thirties, Heather is living a very posh life with a nice house and handsome husband in the picturesque town of Bath in England. Carla also lives in Bath, though on the decidedly wrong side of the tracks, and is a single mother of four with number five arriving in two months. No matter how things appear, all is not well in Heather’s marriage.

Deciding upon an extreme plan to help repair her failing relationship, Heather reaches out to the estranged Carla for help. Not exactly happy to hear from Heather after all these years, Carla consents to a meeting and is shocked by Heather’s untoward proposal. However, Heather is also offering a very large sum of money to compensate the financially struggling Carla for her assistance. Is the money worth doing something that is too unpleasant for Heather’s well-manicured hands to touch and against Carla’s own moral code as well?

Friendship, loyalty, trauma, betrayal, abuse and perception are the issues up for examination in director Guilliem Morales’ new film, The Wasp. This well-plotted thriller — containing a genuine, gut-punching, surprise twist at the end —  is certainly intriguing, if not always believable. (A room full of wasps that stay in one room?) Unfortunately, the script bogs down midway into a talky, morality debate that transforms the initially engaging feature into a stage play on film. Morgan Lloyd Malcom adapts the screenplay from his own 2015, legit two-hander, but the stage bones of the piece are still evident.

Of course, the use of a single location for most of the movie does complicate its filmic possibilities. Editing by Joe Randall-Cutler and Ryan Morrison and cinematography by John Soprapure take a fairly straight-on approach, basically functioning like a stage proscenium that frames the drama within. However, this stylistic choice does help increase the sense of emotional distance between the characters. Actors Naomie Harris as Heather and Natalie Dormer as Carla fully embrace the actor-friendly writing and both deliver impressively visceral performances. And you might never look at a kitchen smoke detector the same way again.

The Wasp
Shout Studios!
reviewed at Tribeca Film Festival (Spotlight Narrative) June 8, 2024
UK | 96 minutes| English

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