Antonia Campbell Hughes’ It Is In Us All is a haunting albeit narratively empty drama with a stand-out performance from Cosmo Jarvis.
To take a life means different things to a person. For a soldier, it’s part of the job, for an officer, it’s a last resort, but for normal human beings it’s a shattering moment to go through. Taking a life, however, doesn’t always have to mean through death. Instead, it can be taking away someone’s ability to go down a different direction and path that they may have wanted. As we grow older and find ourselves in a world without parents, our minds can lead us down the path of questioning who we are and what could have been of us had we gone left instead of right and vice versa. With Antonia Campbell-Hughes’ It Is In Us All, we explore the story of a man whose taking of a life leads him down a path of self discovery and the tragedies that are locked inside him.
The film follows a man named Hamish Considine (Cosmo Jarvis), a londoner who travels to Donegal, Ireland, in order to claim a family property that was left by his late aunt. On his way to the property at night, Hamish is caught in a devastating car crash that leaves him injured and causes the causality of a 15 year old boy. Consumed by guilt, Hamish stays in Donegal and forms a relationship with a 17 year old boy named Evan (Rhys Mannion), a passenger who was in the victim’s car. As the two bond, Hamish begins a journey of self discovery of his own life as well as coming to terms with his own actions.
From the outset, It Is In Us All presents a deeply haunting and almost unsettling world. If the world isn’t drenched in the darkness of midnight, it’s instead enveloped into a canvas of dull cloudy greys that reflect the mindless state of purgatory that Hamish finds himself in while walking around the empty county of Donegal. Cosmo Jarvis plays his leading role in a way that closely reflects this cold world as he enters the film as a very cold and calculating man. The opening scene is set in a car rental where a woman compliments his name that makes him sound like a saint, something Hamish knows he most certainly is not. He bluntly rejects any friendly or even potentially romantic advances this woman offers to him as he’s already on a mission he can’t deter from. Up until the crash that sets the stage for the film’s narrative, Hamish is a focused and blunt character who’s all business. A man who is almost entirely grey that finds colour as his world comes tumbling down, bringing colour in unexpected and unlikely ways.
Cosmo Jarvis is incredibly impressive in the role of Hamish Considine, as he’s able to find a lot of the meat in the role that the script unfortunately lacks to offer for the most part. Although there are some exciting sequences sprinkled throughout where both the cast and script can both flourish, It Is In Us All can’t help but feel like a film that focuses too much on the thematic ideas of his story rather than telling said story throughout. The film’s central relationship between Hamish, an older man and Evan, the 17 year old boy feels underdeveloped as it seems to go to point A and point B with a lack of any real connective tissue. There’s something to be said about the sexual charge of Evan’s character as he seems to be on his own journey of self discovery which attracts Hamish but the lack of commitment to take it in any direction leaves much of this narrative feeling thematically sound but narratively empty, a problem that plagues much of the film through its runtime.
When It Is In Us All really shines is when it focuses entirely on Cosmo Jarvis and his character’s own personal journey without the other cast. The story of a man who wishes for a better parental relationship and daydreams of a life that perhaps would’ve been more fulfilling is a relatable one despite the circumstances that lead the character of Hamish to this conclusion. The film’s beautiful countryside cinematography also gives the film a very visually appealing look that truly helps it sing during its most engaging moments. Sadly, its minimalist script acts as a detriment to the film as it finds itself unable to truly confront the bold and fascinating themes and ideas it brings to the forefront.
Antonia Campbell-Hughes presents herself to be an incredibly impressive visual director and the performances she’s able to get out of her cast present her as a potential talent worth watching out for within the director space. It Is In Us All may lack the necessary script its narrative needs in order to truly come together, but it does enter the world as a solid conversational piece with a strong foundation for potential future films to take advantage of for bold storytelling and filmmaking.
It Is In Us All will be released in UK and Irish cinemas on Friday, 23 September, 2022.