Sightseers

AN UNUSUAL TAKE ON A HOLIDAY IN THE COUNTRY

Sightseers is a dark comedy and is the third feature from British director Ben Wheatley and it’s been a while since I’ve seen a film quite like it. The story follows two characters, Tina (Alice Lowe) and Chris (Steve Oram) as they embark on a tour of rural Britain discovering everything that the countryside has to offer. The trip soon turns sour after a tourist drops his Cornetto wrapper on the floor. This sparks a homicidal rampage from both Chris and Tina. They begin by reversing their caravan over the Cornetto man and from there they escalate their brutal yet hilarious string of murders.

The story feels like a series of episodes where you find yourself wondering who they will kill in this situation and how will they do it. The link between the killings is that Chris, who is a struggling to write, finds his muse in Tina who then decides that murder is Chris’s way of drawing inspiration. So she encourages Chris to kill. Tina also kills in a desperate attempt to get Chris to like her. This concept accompanied by the hilarious dialogue and ridiculous setting takes you on a journey that will have you laughing for days. The killings for Tina and Chris aren’t necessarily a big deal, more of an annoyance against the enjoyment of their holiday. Chris says after running down the Cornetto man that he (the Cornetto man) has “ruined” the tram museum for him.

It’s this kind of character interaction that brings such hilarity to the film. It reminds me of the work or Martin McDonagh on In Bruges or Seven Psychopaths. Although Tina and Chris are both murderers and generally very strange individuals you find yourself truly enjoying their company in the 88 minutes you spend with them.

This film has put Ben Wheatley on the map for me after I was beyond confused with his previous film Kill List. He is without a doubt a unique film maker, one of which we all need to look out for. Another thing I really like about him is that he is a British director making British films.

Dave

Follow on Twitter: @DavidSAdamson

Nil By Mouth (Spoilers)

Nil By Mouth

When you’re at the bottom, things can only get better, right? Wrong, at least if we follow the pessimistic view of Gary Oldman’s directing debut, Nil By Mouth.

Centered around an unstable South London family, Nil By Mouth is swarming with disjointed characters, shots and mise-en-scene, and grotesque dialogue, which ultimately confines the viewer into a violent and filthy world. It is in this world that we see the disastrous lives of Ray (Ray Winstone), Valerie (Kathy Burke), Billy (Charlie Creed-Miles) and the people around them.

From the first shot we are bombarded with packed visuals, zigzagging lines, people move negatively across space and often blocking of our point of view. This is the method that is followed throughout the film. The claustrophobic, smokey scenes filled with juxtaposed, non-linear objects not only promotes a sense of disorder but also an unsettling nausea. This can be reflected not only by the films audience, but its characters alike. Each character is deprived of control; control over themselves, their loved ones, and even the environment around them. This is where the conflict in the film derives from, each character needing to gain control for whatever reason it may be. For Ray, it is control over his wife. For Valerie it is control over herself. Both are unobtainable.

Oldman has taken a negative approach not only to father figures in Nil By Mouth, but also to men. The abundance of negative male characters outweighs the positive female characters, and as the film procedes a clear divide is found. Valerie leaves Ray after he brutally attacks her whilst she is pregnant and kills her unborn baby. Alone, and totally out of control (including himself), Ray destroys his and Valerie’s home in a drunken rage. He reminisces about his abusive, alcoholic father, as he slowly starts to realise he has become him. Valerie moves in with her mother, Janet (Laila Morse) and grandmother, Kath (Edna Doré), where she is taken care of. The film reaffirms the importance of maternal strength, and the safety and comfort that is joined to that. Oldman mentions this in a short interview available by the following link – http://tinyurl.com/a9bbjno

The film is a masterpiece of acting and cinematography, and what I would regard as British gem.

Ben