It Is In Us All: a misty, moody character piece

Antonia Campbell-Hughes’ atmospheric Ireland-set debut features sterling performances from Cosmo Jarvis and Campbell-Hughes herself.

Cosmo Jarvis as Hamish in It Is In Us All (2022)

Quite what is in us all is never made explicitly clear in actor-director Antonia Campbell-Hughes’ atmospheric debut. Loneliness? The capacity for self-destruction? A morbid fascination with our own mortality? The film explores all of these themes with a cool detachment, Campbell-Hughes getting into the minds, if not completely under the skin, of her troubled male characters. Yet her visual confidence and eye for emotive detail mark her out as an exciting filmmaking talent.

London businessman Hamish (Cosmo Jarvis) is in Donegal, visiting the house his estranged aunt has left him in her will. He’s only been in the country a couple of hours when he’s involved in a car crash that leaves a 15-year-old boy dead. More injured, in every sense, than he’ll admit, Hamish is visited by Ewan (Rhys Mannion), a 17-year-old who survived the accident, and who lives on a nearby farm with his grandfather. Thrown together by extreme circumstance, and by the fact that they are both motherless, the pair quickly forge a bond.

A lifetime of emotional repression – stilted Skype conversations with his father (an unrecognisable Claes Bang) hint at the coldness of their relationship – has left Hamish wound up so tightly that his psychology permeates his physiology. With a clipped accent and straight back, he holds himself together (both figuratively and, in one toe-curling post-accident scene, literally) without anything approaching support. So unable is he to connect with anyone that an opening sequence with a flirtatious car-hire receptionist, which could easily have been comic, is uncomfortably tense.

That tension pervades the rest of the film as the aftermath of the accident – for which Hamish is not held accountable yet clearly feels responsible – begins to crack him open. Despite the sexual undercurrent of his pull towards Ewan, there’s something more primal at play; the fascination he has for the younger man feeds into the loss and isolation he’s been carrying for years. The discovery that his late mother wanted to move to Ireland with him when he was an infant further forces Hamish to confront what has always been missing.

Sterling performances from Jarvis, Mannion and Campbell-Hughes as the deceased boy’s grieving mother (notably the film’s only female character) are bolstered by the stunning Irish scenery. Moody camerawork by cinematographer Piers McGrail captures the bleak, treacherous beauty of the landscape, the mists rolling across the hills making certain sequences look like they’ve been shot at the very end of the world – fitting for this story of a desperate man facing up to the fact that he may very well have run out of road.

► It Is In Us All is in UK cinemas now.