Movie Reviews

‘Cicada’ Review: A New Relationship Buds as Old Wounds Reopen


The camera in “Cicada” lives on the mark, literally and metaphorically. Ben’s (Matthew Pfeiffer) new boyfriend Sam (Sheldon D. Brown) has a rough, discolored line down his stomach. Ben drags his finger along the line while the two are in bed together. And so are the unexplained nightmares that take Ben back to his Long Island childhood home and a nearby beach, The sound of sobs and the deafening waves of the sea nearby.


  • Directors: Matthew Fifer, Kieran Mulcare
  • Writer: Matthew Fifer
  • Stars: Matthew Fifer, Sheldon D. Brown, Sandra Bauleo, Jazmin Grace Grimaldi, Cobie Smulders
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Running Time: 1hour 36minute
  • Genre: Drama

Ben is first introduced through an elliptical montage of alcoholic dates and hookups. But after these visits, he often finds himself on the floor of his small room, nauseous or shivering with nightmares. An immediate date with Sam, which doesn’t lead to intercourse, opens up Ben’s new possibilities for healthy intimacy. But it also reopens the old wounds it has left its scars on.

“Cicada,” directed by Pfeiffer and Kieran Mulcair, is a silent affair, even as its diffuse and desaturated palette conveys a sense of understatement. Ben and Sam’s blossoming romance tells a lot and shows little. While there are sometimes amusingly silly sections of dialogue that feel like a series of steady poetic non-sequiturs, much of the couple’s relationship feels straight and unmistakable.

Sound design by Gisela Fulla-Silvestre and Travis Jones gives the film a modest amount of thoughtful and detailed texture. His calibrated and minimalist soundscape is subtle and beautiful, offering insight into a deeply complex relationship informed by trauma when the rest of the movie struggles to do so.

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