Pin Cushion (Movie Review)

Moving to a new place is difficult. Suddenly there are people all around that are strangers and yet somehow the only option is to attempt to become one of them. People are not always so welcoming, though. Especially if one of the new comers is physically deformed or different in any way and the other is a naive teenager. Can people so different really find their place in the world? If so, what exactly is it? Exploring these very themes, and in theaters on Friday, July 20, 2018 through Cleopatra Entertainment comes Deborah Wood’s Dark Comedy/Drama Pin Cushion.

Lyn (Joanna Scanlan: Stardust 2007, Getting On series) and her daughter, Ionia (Lily Newmark: Emerald City, 2017 Solo: A Star Wars Story 2018), move into a new place. The pair are filled with hope that this move will be all their dreams come true. Lyn dreams of being accepted despite the fact that she is a hunchback. Ionia is her entire life and the two are inseparable. They even willingly share the same bedroom and bed. It becomes clear rather quickly that Lyn’s dreams will simply not come true. Upon arrival, Lyn is mocked and pelted for being a hunchback. Ionia, however, quickly meets Dax (Loris Scarpa), a cute boy she is immediately enamored with.

Ionia dreams of being immediately accepted and popular at school. Though she loves her mother, she also dreams of her being someone else entirely. Being Lyn’s child will never get Ionia the life she desires. The first day of school does not go the way Ionia plans. She is instantly targeted by a threesome of mean girls: Keeley (Sasha Cordy-Nice), Chelsea (Bethany Antonia: Doctors series, Stath Lets Flats series), and Stacie (Saskia Paige Martin). Ionia longs to be one of them, but Chelsea is the only one who is even remotely nice to her.

Lyn is also having her own problems. She attempts to meet the neighbors, but they all ignore and shun her. One even asks to borrow her ladder and refuses to give it back based on her appearance alone. She still insists to her daughter that she has friends. In reality, Ionia and Birdie, her parakeet, are her only companions. With Keeley suddenly taking interest in Ionia, Birdie is the only constant in Lyn’s life.

Keeley is sex-crazed and openly hates her mother. Ionia, trying desperately to fit in beings to adapt Keeley’s personality. She begins to distance herself even more from her mother. She moves out of her mother’s room, which hurts Lyn deeply. Teenagers can be cruel, though, and the more Keeley and her friends push Ionia to the limit, the further they take her from her mother.
Can Lyn and Ionia’s super-close relationship survive their new friendships? Will Ionia finally get to live the normal accepted life she has always dreamed of? Or will the new move that was full of hope end their lives as they know it once and for all?

Society has a certain idea of what looks normal. People who are different or deformed in any way often have to fight harder just to find a place of acceptance. What this film does successfully is show how senseless and cruel this exclusion is. Lyn is an extremely sweet woman. She loves cats, though she does not own one. She also enjoys putting puzzles together with her daughter. She is hopeful and goes out of her way to try and fit in but is meek when there is push back. She is obviously a woman who has been rejected her entire life. Still, she is harmless. The only reason that anyone dislikes her is because of her physical appearance. Something that Lyn has zero control over.

Scanlan’s Lyn is so convincing that you will have an overwhelming urge to give her a big hug and reassure her that she is accepted. She is such a gentle loving woman, but she, like everyone else, has a breaking point. The point which no one should ever have to face in their lifetime.

On the flip side, Ionia is sheltered because of the pain her mother has experienced. Newmark’s Ionia is a beautiful girl, only a bit odd because of her close relationship with her mother. Keeley and her crew single her out because she is new and inexperienced. Ionia just yearns to be normal, so she does not see that most she calls friends are really just using her for their own amusement. Both mother and daughter are being bullied by those around them, but for different reasons. Pin Cushion also forces the viewer to question who exactly dictates what is normal and should be accepted and what is doomed to be used and hurt.

Pin Cushion is definitely a film that explores the complexities of people. Even Keeley, the seemingly heartless bully is able to lower her walls at certain moments and reveal what truly motivates her. Fear. Ionia is, unfortunately, just too unequipped to realize that Keeley is just crying out for help. She represents what really motivates even Lyn’s bullies. Fear of different, fear of the unknown. At their core even, the bullies are not terrible people, but for some reason they push those instincts away and still go after Lyn and Ionia. Ionia and Lyn could be anyone with anything different about them, the way they handle their new lives because of their close relationship, is what makes this film so special.

Pin Cushion is sad, and shocking. The film expertly represents how different can be bullied into having to take drastic measures to change what cannot be changed. The script and acting are flawless. It also constantly forces the viewer to rethink dismissing people just because they are different. It is for these reasons that CrypticRock rates Pin Cushion 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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