Swallow

Hunter, a young woman from a lower-working-class family, has recently married Richie, a man from a wealthy family who is set to take over as CEO of his father’s Manhattan corporation. This affords Hunter the ability to stay at home in the couple’s lavish upstate New York home. Despite this, Hunter finds herself emotionally stifled and isolated in both her marriage and domestic life, and Richie distant and inconsiderate toward her. One day, she develops the impulse to eat a marble. She finds it exhilarating, and begins to consume other inedible objects around the house, including thumbtacks, metal figurines, and batteries.

Hunter becomes pregnant and the technician notices an anomaly in her abdomen during the routine ultrasound. She is rushed in for emergency surgery to remove a variety of objects trapped in her intestine. Hunter is diagnosed with pica, a psychological disorder that compels individuals to eat inedible objects. Richie’s parents, Katherine and Michael, arrange for her to see a psychiatrist in the city. During her therapy sessions, Hunter says she swallows the objects because she likes the feel of their textures in her mouth.

Richie hires Luay, a family friend and immigrant from Syria, to monitor Hunter while he is at work. Hunter, feeling smothered, is initially hostile toward Luay, who dismisses her mental illness as resulting from her privileged life. In therapy, she eventually reveals she was not raised by her biological father and has never met him, though she knows his name and keeps a picture of him. She was conceived as a result of her mother’s rape at the hands of a strange man she had met in a bar. The rapist served time in prison for the crime.

One afternoon, Hunter overhears Richie speaking with her psychiatrist on the phone, and realizes Richie has financially bribed the doctor to reveal the content of her sessions. This sends Hunter into a panic, and she swallows a miniature screwdriver. Luay finds her choking violently, and calls 9-1-1. After undergoing surgery to remove the screwdriver, Michael and Katherine arrange to have Hunter committed to a psychiatric hospital for the next seven months until she delivers the baby, threatening that Richie will divorce her. Luay, who has warmed to Hunter, allows her to flee into the woods, and stages it to appear as though she had escaped.

Hunter hitchhikes to a motel and calls Richie, who begs her to return. She explains she had rushed into their marriage and pregnancy to make him happy. When she refuses to come back, he chastises and insults her. Hunter smashes her cell phone and spends the rest of the night watching television and eating soil from outside. The next day, she hitchhikes to the home of her biological father, William Erwin. William and his wife Lucy are having a birthday party for their daughter. They assume Hunter is the parent of one of their daughter’s friends, but she privately reveals her true identity to William. During an emotional conversation, William professes his shame for the rape of Hunter’s mother. Hunter asks him if he is ashamed of her and whether she is like him, which he denies.

Having obtained closure, Hunter visits a clinic and is prescribed medication to induce an abortion. She takes the pills while eating lunch in a food court and experiences the abortion in a public restroom.