Wasp: A Searing Portrait of Poverty and Desperation

Wasp: A Searing Portrait of  Poverty and Desperation

Wasp is an acclaimed short film directed by British filmmaker Andrea Arnold, which won the 2005 Academy Award for Live Action Short Film and the Short Filmmaking Award at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. Wasp has been credited as having revived the genre of social realism in British cinema, and this short film has gained the status of a modern classic through Arnold’s sensitive humanistic approach, combined with modern filmmaking techniques.

The film is a searing and intimate portrait of Zoë, a modern young woman in contemporary Britain, who is mired in poverty, but desperately wants something for herself aside from the oppressive limitations of being a single-mother of four. Despite the responsibility she bears, when a former crush unexpectedly resurfaces showing his first bit of romantic interest in her, she takes the opportunity to go out on a date, behaving in agonizingly irresponsible ways.

At another level, Wasp is a stinging critique of the painful worship of the faux-celebrity lives manufactured by today’s public relations pop-media machines. For Zoë, the Beckhams are the ideal, the epitome of the fashionably idolized, providing an illusory escape from the harsh realities of her own life. They’re the idealized depiction of a family with three terribly good-looking young sons, a family whose real existence never steps in the way of their living the glamorous life. For Zoë, the Beckhams represent the false pinnacle of desire: never-ending luxury, fashionable motherhood and physical perfection in marriage. But there’s a gut-wrenching sadness to Zoë’s idealized obsession, for she can barely even feed her own children.

It is just phenomenal how much this film gets right; the level of deftness in the writing and presentation is stellar. Having already noted that Wasp has achieved the status of a modern classic, it behooves you to watch this engrossing film. Wasp is a perfect reintroduction to dramatic live-action short films: it is almost mandatory viewing for short film fans. Enjoy.

Wasp: A Searing Portrait of Poverty and Desperation

Read more about this film at Short of the Week here.

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