I’m a firm believer that all people should be psychologically evaluated before being deemed fit to be parents, not once the children are old enough to have faced the effects of those who would not have passed in the first place. Andrea Arnold’s short film, Wasp, only strengthens this belief.
In a mere twenty-six minute time frame, Arnold packed this film with emotional turmoil and controversial issues. As Zoë, a young and obviously unfit mother, faces the struggle many single parents face, the loss of their social lives, I could only hold myself back from jumping through the screen and shaking her for making her four young children, one only an infant, pay the price for her needs.
Early in the film, it’s almost as if Zoë herself is trying to prove to the audience that she is a good mother by defending her daughter against the woman that harmed her. Noble? I think not. While it’s obviously not acceptable for a grown woman to physically harm a child, that act is nothing compared to the harm Zoë has done to her own children. Emotional and psychological pains are real, and last longer than any physical scar.
The trail of events leading up to Zoë finally realizing that a good mother is not one that leaves her children outside of a bar while she attempts to recapture her youth left me with my own little emotional scar. To see children, actors or not, in such a dangerous situation and knowing that they will be in the care of such a lowlife in this fictional world even once the credits roll is torture.
The film was so real, so tragically believable, that I couldn’t help but accept it as reality and worry for the safety of the children (and shed a tear for children who aren’t just playing the part in a film). While it ended on a note of calm relief, which for the children was simply the fact that they were given a meal and a ride home, I was left with an extremely unsettling, even queasy feeling; a feeling very few films have been able to draw out of me.
I can’t help but feel that the audience was meant to feel sorry for this young woman, or at least pity her plight as a single mother who has hit rock bottom and applaud her as her maternal instincts kicked in, but I could not have felt less sympathy for her. Rather, I applaud Arnold for being able to so accurately portray such a dreary world that is sadly not far from reality for many people.