Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with a review of my favorite film of Cannes 2012 so far. Well, my favorite new film as I have seen Jaws on this trip.
Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers benefits from going in knowing very little about the film, much like his movie right before this one, Kill List. So, I will start out the review spoiler-free. If and when I move into spoiler territory I’ll let you know.
Let’s start by saying that this is a form of romantic comedy that is darkly funny, quasi-sweet and incredibly bloody.
In a perfect world Chris and Tina would be voted best couple in every year-end movie list, but I have a feeling that it will only win that should it play Fantastic Fest this year.
Fuck The Artist, this is the best romantic movie about two star-crossed lovers and a cute dog! I know IFC picked it up, but someone get the Weinsteins to push it for best picture!
Christ, I’m already ready to dip into spoiler territory. This won’t be spoilers for the sake of spoilers and probably less information than the first trailer will give you, but here’s the warning. This is a great one to decide “yep, I’m gonna watch it” and tune everything else out. If you do that, you’ll be happy and all will be right in the world.
But hopefully someone throws caution to the wind or I’ll be typing the rest of this review for nobody.
When I said Sightseers is a romantic road trip movie, I meant that by way of Bonnie & Clyde. Chris and Tina aren’t really criminals, though. They for sure aren’t as cool as Bonnie and Clyde. They’re average, entering-middle-age British people. Both of them have slight social skill deficiencies, both are incredibly lonely people who seem to get each other or at the very least accept each others’ weirdness.
Steve Oram plays Chris and Alice Lowe plays Tina. It feels like the roles were written for them… and considering they both wrote the movie I have a sinking suspicion that might just be the case.
What’s great about them both is the feeling of normalcy about them. This isn’t a dig, but they don’t look like movie stars trying to play average… they are everyday people. You could pass them on the street, live next door to them, buy your insurance from them. That makes it work all the better when people start dying as the happy couple caravan around England.
The chemistry between Oram and Lowe is one of the main driving forces of this film. Imagine if Luna Lovegood grew up with a passive-aggressive way overprotective mother and you’re in the ballpark of where Tina is as a person. Slightly slow, slightly loopy, kind of bubbly and cutely nervous about her budding sexuality. I may be reading into it a bit, but the impression I get is that this is Tina’s first sexual connection with someone. She’s a late bloomer, well into her 30s, but she has the enthusiasm of a teenager. Tina doesn’t feel like a mature woman finding love, more like a high school girl crushing on greaser.
The stuff that gets Lowe’s Chris pissed off is the same kind of stuff that gets me pissed off, so I found it easy to empathize with him even though I don’t go to quite the extremes that Chris does to put right the little wrongs I see on a daily basis.
This film would make a fantastic 2nd feature in a double-bill with Bobcat Goldthwait’s God Bless America, actually. Somebody make a note of that somewhere so I can pull a “Toldja!” when the New Bev does that double feature in a year or two.
In a weird way this is Ben Wheatley’s most commercial film to date… but it’s still a Ben Wheatley film, don’t you worry. Kill List was a nice slow burn that took a crazy left turn… this one nails black comedy sweet spot, straddling goofy and “What the fuck!?!” comedy.
Sightseers was a pleasant departure from the overly serious art fare of the fest. It was my first departure from the main fest schedule and makes me want to brave the sidebars and market screenings a little more before this whole crazy ride is over.