Trauma and catharsis: Matthew Fifer and Sheldon D Brown on Cicada
Walking a fine between fact and fiction, Cicada is based on the real-life traumas suffered by its two stars, Matthew Fifer and Sheldon D Brown, who co-wrote the script. The pair bring a raw and moving authenticity to this film that studies how trauma can both be made manifest and healed in unexpected ways.
Fifer plays Ben, a troubled 30-something man living in New York who struggles with anxiety and forming lasting relationships, finding solace only in his daily booze fix and one-night stands. When he meets Sam by chance over a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, something shifts. The two fall in love and start on a road to help each other heal their very different but mirrored scars.
Much like Eliza Hittman’s Beach Rats, the movie offers a slice of life as it is lived, conjuring a strong sense of place through its wonderful invocation of the sights, sounds and ambience of New York City streets, flats and rooftops on lazy summer days. What’s also striking is, in contrast to other works dealing with trauma, its bleaker notes are balanced by a consistent thread of dry humour, levity (How I Met Your Mother’s Cobie Smoulders is just brilliant as Ben’s nonchalant therapist Sophie) and optimism.
The Upcoming had the pleasure of chatting to Fifer about the very personal story behind the film, how it was both challenging yet cathartic to write, direct (with Kieran Mulcare) and act in, and how he hopes Cicada can inspire others to share their own stories.
We also spoke with Brown about how his real-life story came intertwined with Fifer’s in the script, what it was like shooting the film and the importance of representing a breadth of queer stories on screen.
Cicada is released in select cinemas on 21st January 2022.
Watch the trailer for Cicada here: