“Wasp,” Andrea Arnold’s 2005 Oscar winning short film was thought provoking and anger-inducing, so much that we are left with more questions than with less. Set in the UK, the film begins with a single mother, Zoe, who charges into a hair-pulling catfight with another mother, as her four barefooted children, as well as neighbors into houses located not too far away, look on stricken with the violent temperament of the scene.
The film’s opening scene immediately sets the tone– coloring our perception– for what we are to experience in the remainder of the film. Wasp isn’t a passive film but a disruptive one; it left me indignant at the surroundings in which her children are raised. When Dave, her romantic interest from her earlier years in school, passes by her on a street in the suburban town in a beat-up car after the incident, she is flirtatious and denies that she is with her children. We are aghast at her behavior, but cannot be without any sympathy.
At her date with Dave in a crowded, dingy pub, in which she leaves her children in the parking lot, I could only imagine the despair and darkness that her children were in, left to fend for themselves in the dangerous world outside. They are hungry and almost like beggars– when a group of drunk men with bottles of beer drop a foiled bag of food, they scavenge and eat messily, leaving barbecue sauce messily on the infant’s mouth. This film left us to question, in indignation, at how a single mother can be so cruel. But beyond this, this film was thought provoking and not without an ironic twist– a wasp in her infant’s mouth forces her to leave Dave alone in the car. That’s right, a wasp. And with it, Dave discovers the truth.
Denial, the shallow layers of lies that she creates, are ultimately uncovered. Truth, we see, is never too far away.