Lost in an undisclosed remote part of Eastern Europe, Samuel is a foreigner in search of his biological father. When he hits a pig with his car, the local pig-farmer’s daughter invites him over to her home, where she captures Samuel and makes him her slave.

Aik Karapetian‘s dark fairy tale ‘Squeal‘ is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It’s a story that reads like folklore and watches like modern arthouse à la Terrence Malick. Twist this all with a sense of absurdism and you have yourself a unique slice of cinema.

Belgian actor Kevin Janssens (Close) bares all (he’s literally naked for the first 30 minutes of the movie) with his best performance to date. He doesn’t phone it in, but transforms every scene with genuine pain, sadness and confusion. Samuel isn’t just lost in translation, but he’s a lost soul searching for more than just his biological father. Even though he tries to escape the pigsty he shares with a bunch of pigs, there’s hope within him that all of this has meaning.

Laura Siliņa plays the pig-farmer’s daughter, Kirke, who’s hard to read but strong willed in her ways of handling Samuel. Siliņa is such a natural performer, constantly shifting gears with scene partner Janssens. This doesn’t only make for captivating scenes, it builds up momentum for what eventually happens later on.

The pigs are equally important to this weirdly poetic story, as does the narrator who masterfully tells this story as if it’s been passed down for centuries by those who came before us. All set to a perfectly composed score by Justine Bourgeus, the scenery of the Latvian woods and fields (where this film was shot by cinematographer Jurgis Kmins) transports us to a different time period, where one could lose all sense of their destiny, or might just find one.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

SQUEAL will be released in the US Theatrically in Los Angeles (with more cities TBC) and on VOD in the US and CANADA on August 19.

Reviewed online (screener provided by publicist), August 17, 2022. Running time: 85 min.

PRODUCTION: A Good Deed Entertainment release of a Mitrus Media, Polar Bear & LevelK production. Producers: Inese Boka-Grube & Gints Grube.

CREW: Director: Aik Karapetian. Writers: Aik Karapetian & Aleksandr Rodionov. Cinematography: Jurgis Kmins. Editing: Paula Popmane. Music: Justine Bourgeus.

CAST: Kevin Janssens, Laura Siliņa, Aigars Vilims, Normunds Griestiņš, Juris Bartkevičs, Guntis Pilsums.

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