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Tribeca Review: ‘The Wasp’

The Wasp Starring Naomie Harris
Photo Credit: Tribecca Film Festival

There’s nothing like a good twist to throw a monkey wrench into everything you thought was happening in a film, right? Just when you feel like you have a firm grasp on where things are going and what each character’s intentions are, something changes and you’re left picking your jaw up off the floor. Well, the latest film from writer-director Guillem Morales, The Wasp, is chock-full of head-spinning twists and turns that leave you on edge until the very end. 

Now, in a bizarre fashion, The Wasp gets off to a rough start. It opens on unhappy housewife, Heather (Naomie Harris), as she feels trapped in her disintegrating relationship with her husband, Simon (Dominic Allburn). While it’s clear there are looming tensions between Heather and Simon to the point her paranoia and frustrations manifest in manic obsessions, it’s unclear why these tensions exist…or where the film is really going. Sure, the lack of context and direction is likely to bolster the shock value of eventual reveals, but in the moment, it’s tough to connect to the film and everything happening with Heather. It’s like the film is aimlessly walking through its story and it only becomes more confusing once it suddenly cuts to the less extravagant life of Carla (Natalie Dormer) to get her side of things.  

Early on, it’s tough to get hooked to The Wasp, and it desperately needs clearer story direction so audiences aren’t totally lost through the opening act. Honestly, it feels like the movie properly begins when Heather contacts Carla about a secret proposition. Once these two meet up, we get a better understanding of their background as former friends and the sort of connection they have now—or lack thereof. It’s obvious that they’re living opposite lives as Heather, despite her shaky marriage, is living a wealthier lifestyle than Clara, who works as a cashier to support her growing family. In some ways, they want what the other has but struggle to get there. 

This eventually leads Heather to ask Clara to help her do something pretty shocking and horrifying: kill Simon for his supposed infidelity. For the most part, Heather comes off fairly reserved and only shows more aggressive behavior when her anxiety overwhelms her. So, this proposal is quite the shift for her and ultimately leads the film to change for the better. This new narrative direction instantly makes the film more interesting and catches your attention in a good way. Plus, Heather and Carla quickly become a blast to watch as they plan their attack. 

Heather and Carla are a true “odd couple” in the best ways and have funny spats about how they want this plan to take out Simon to come together. Harris and Dormer’s chemistry flourishes in this planning sequence and it’s honestly fun to watch two newbies try to choreograph this ordeal. Their playful ragging on each other’s ideas genuinely feels like two old friends reuniting and you’re sort of wrapped in the warmth of their dynamic—despite the grim circumstances. Oddly enough, though, that’s how the film really gets you. It comforts you into this friendship reigniting before Heather’s real plan for Carla unfolds. 

Now, without getting too deep into spoiler territory, Morales makes the second half of The Wasp an absolute jaw-dropper. He pulls no punches in showcasing some gut-wrenching truths about Heather’s intentions or the awful past she shares with Carla. There are flashbacks that highlight horrors that continually haunt Heather and help explain this sudden reveal of slow-building revenge. It’s awesome and only gets better as Heather’s power grows through Harris’s captivating performance. 

Although she veers into over-the-top lunacy a little too often due to her more animated reactions, Harris becomes legitimately scary in the film’s final stretch. She makes you feel the agonizing pain that Heather has carried for decades because of what happened to her as a kid and her sharp outbursts to regain control are totally terrifying. Harris truly commands the screen and makes the film’s themes of revenge, trauma, and anguish palpable. Dormer is equally great throughout, making you connect to Carla’s personality and fear.

It all builds towards a finale that’s exactly what audiences want for this type of thrill. Heather completely warps your mind by psychologically messing with the audience and Carla simultaneously. By the time you’re able to get your grip on things again, everything comes to a head between Heather and Carla. Then, in its final moments, the film ties together all the little details hinted at throughout to create a clean conclusion that has a lasting impact. It’s one of those endings that ties the story in a nice bow and satisfyingly makes a subtle plan come together in ways you didn’t expect. 

The Wasp might get off to a shaky start, but it eventually finds its footing through great performances from Harris and Dormer as well as layer upon layer of twisty thrills. It’ll certainly leave audiences speechless at times and unprepared for what’s just around the corner, the ingredients to any great thrill ride. 

Tom Moore
Tom Moorehttps://mooreviews.com/
Tom is always ready to see and review everything horrifying and hilarious that hits theaters, television, and video games...sometimes. You can check out his other reviews and articles on his blog, Mooreviews.

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