Pin Cushion (2018)
Critic Consensus: Pin Cushion explores the prickly dynamics of mother-daughter relationships and female friendships, led by striking work from leads Lily Newmark and Joanna Scanlan.
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Critic Reviews for Pin Cushion
Writer-director Deborah Haywood makes her feature directorial debut with the surreal and whimsical mother-daughter nightmare Pin Cushion, driven by a singular vision and masterful control of a unique tone, which tiptoes the line of beauty and terror.
Haywood's formidable first feature is at once a ruthless dissection of cruelty, capturing the relentless torment of outcasts for the pleasure of self-styled superiors, and a warm evocation of an interdependent mother-daughter bond.
Haywood digs into her own teenage memories and unearths something eccentric, tragic and utterly unclassifiable.
It's not always an easy watch but it's a sensitive, assured film with characters you'll warm to and root for.
At its core, this is a story about bullying and mental illness and being disconnected from reality.
Audience Reviews for Pin Cushion
It's a cruel, cruel world for kids. There are a lot of harsh truths that you never see coming, and, depending on your class status and family, they can be drastically more difficult to deal with. That's probably why Lady Bird hit so hard a year ago because intrinsic to its standard coming-of-age plot line was a subtler undercurrent of socio-economic struggle. Where many of these types of films focus almost exclusively on the protagonist's emotional state, Lady Bird and now Deborah Haywood's Pin Cushion have quite a lot to do with the mechanisms that surround the elucidation of adulthood. Starting life fresh in a new town, Lyn (Joanna Scanlan) and her teen daughter Iona (Lily Newmark) are eccentric and in sync with each other, but the insular and catty nature of their new home drives them apart in spite of themselves. Their naive and passive proclivities give them away to the most callous inhabitants of their community, and they fall prey to an almost hyperbolic series of bullyings. This thing gets dark then darker. If I were forced to provide a point of reference for the sense of unsettling dread that permeates this movie I would immediately say Hereditary. Yet somehow Pin Cushion seems more sincere than that critically acclaimed darling of a film because however absolutely bizarre Lyn and Iona act, there isn't some silly satanic cop-out. They really are struggling with not only sanity but the absurdly vindictive society that they isolated themselves from until it was too late for them to be able to deal with it. Much of the film focuses on Iona's experiences as she traverses her school's small social sphere like any film of this particular genre. But when she tries to fit in, she is subjected to passive aggressive agony all the way to outright slanderous hatred. That "small victory" sense of triumph characteristic of other similar set films is rarely seen. Instead we are treated to the darkest humor riddled with gorgeously shot fantasy sequences of how she would wish her life to be, so the highs are high enough that the lows are absolutely devastating. It's equal parts hilarious, depressing, and thoughtful, and it's a film that makes you want to be nicer to people.
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