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by Kilian Melloy
Friday Jul 3, 2015

Writer-director Philippe Audi-Dor's film "Wasp" is an itchy, anxiety-inducing three-hander in which a couple, James (Hugp Bolton) and Olivier (Simon Haycock) find their getaway to the South of France intruded upon by Caroline (Elly Condron), an old friend of James' who has just gone through a bad breakup and needs a change of scene.

The predictable things happen: Olivier starts off none too happy about the guest, but then he starts finding himself increasingly attracted to her. Sensing his interest, Caroline begins to press him harder and harder for sexual attention. Olivier, intrigued and unwilling to raise a fuss, holds a minimal distance, but soon her pursuit of him begins to resemble one of the games she says, in one blithe moment, she's interested in playing only if she has an opponent who is worthy of her.

Haycock and Condron deliver crackling performances; Bolton's role is less juicily written, but when his character is allowed to let loose, it's hair-raising.

A film that could easily have become trite and tedious ratchets up the tension instead, thanks in part to Pablo Rojo's cinematography and Alexis Steele's edgy editing. The script is smart, too, never telling us everything we want to know. Instead, we are left to speculate, project, and decide for ourselves, and, like a horror movie, the products of our own imaginations fill in the gaps with personal fears. That, plus the operatic score and intimate setting, give the movie intimacy and immediacy.

The film glories in expertly done long takes, such as an agonizing ride in the car when Olivier and Caroline find themselves alone, stewing in desire and apprehension. Another remarkable shot tickles the icy cockles of the taut and jealous heart: James, retreating into the house while Caroline and Olivier play in the pool, pours himself a drink. The sound of happy splashing -- and of Caroline and Olivier wondering if James is all right -- provides a counterpoint to his drunk and exhausted appearance.

To assign the role of nettlesome, threatening "wasp" to Caroline would be accurate, but doesn't plumb the symbolic depths the film explores. At root, the buzz comes not from a woman looking for sexual affirmation, but from a man who isn't quite sure what he wants out of life -- or out of a lover.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


  • Anonymous, 2015-11-07 05:32:46

    Do you think Olivier and James are still together at the end?

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