TIFF 2012 Review: SIGHTSEERS

PrintE-mail Written by Katherine McLaughlin

Sightseers

Review: Sightseers / Cert: 18 / Director: Ben Wheatley / Screenplay: Steve Oram, Alice Lowe / Starring: Alice Lowe, Steve Oram, Eileen Davis / Release Date: November 30th

With director Ben Wheatley’s body of work headed for cult status he’s a filmmaker whose output you cannot afford to miss, and with Sightseers he delivers yet again with a dark concept dominated by caustic characters.

Taking the brutal elements from Kill List with some gruesome and gory deaths, and featuring characters delivering smart dialogue as in his first feature film, Down Terrace, Wheatley has directed a sharp, standout film. For the first time Wheatley has not had a hand in the screenplay, with Steve Oram and Alice Lowe, who star in the film, writing a funny script full of macabre moments and hilarious one liners.

Chris (Oram) is a staunch advocate for green living who cannot abide litterbugs and society’s declining standards. Tina (Lowe) has been kept on a short leash by her controlling, bitter mother (played perfectly by Eileen Davis) who she lives with in a naïve bubble of a world. Tina and Chris go on a caravanning holiday around England’s green and pleasant land discovering the things that made this country great and setting the world to rights with their twisted ideology.

Oram and Lowe have been working on the characters of Chris and Tina for several years now and it really shows as their idiosyncratic ways give them depth and their interaction is naturalistic. The characters themselves pique interest from the start. Tina, a dog obsessed, knitted knicker wearing, potpourri enthusiast is hiding a terrible secret. When Chris declares Tina as his muse and takes her on a sexual odyssey their weird ways play out in cruel, comic fashion.

The soundtrack fits in superbly well with the psychotic tendencies of the couple who carry on a killing spree of those who make them irate. You will never listen to Tainted Love in the same way again as it bookends the film, first with the 1981 Soft Cell version and ending with the original recording by Gloria Jones. Along with Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s The Power of Love the mood of the early ‘80s recession is prevalent and it coincides with the frustration of the current economic climate.

Sightseers comments on the snap judgements we make of people and their upbringing and looks at what would happen if we simply eradicated that which we didn’t like or agree with. Envy and greed is at the heart of this sick love story and it’s all delivered with buckets of humour. With the location shooting, references to our heritage and the mounting tension indicative of the current mood, this is a smart British film made for our times.

Expected Rating: 7 out of 10

Actual Rating:


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