Saturday, 12 January 2013

Films of 2012 - No. 5

Films Of 2012 - No. 5

Sightseers (Dir. Ben Wheatley)

Not content with reinventing the British gangster film in Down Terrace and shredding everybody's nerves in Kill List, Ben Wheatley's 3rd film celebrates two ever present British traditions: caravanning and funny Brummie accents.

Despite her mother's best protests, Tina sets off on a romantic holiday with boyfriend Chris. Manned with their caravan and an itinerary which takes in some idyllic areas of northern Britain, what could possibly spoil their trip? Quite a lot, it turns out, as some psychopathic tendencies start to take over.

Sightseers is a film that is as dark as it is funny, quite often at the same time. One unfortunate incident that is told in flashback is horrifyingly grisly and yet so ridiculous that you can't help but laugh. Wheatley and D.P. Laurie Rose show the British countryside as the beautiful place it still is, but crucially the visual style changes to reflect the ever darkening tone of the film.

Compared to his previous efforts, Sightseers is less of a "Ben Wheatley Film" as the undeniable stars of the show are writers and actors Steve Oram and Alice Lowe. In Chris and Tina, they have created a couple whose initial sweet natured charms are soon overshadowed by the rising body count. Most importantly, each murder impacts on their relationship which drives the narrative forward and ensures the film doesn't turn into a series of sketches.

Edgar Wright is an executive producer on the film and Sightseers can join Wright's own Shaun Of The Dead as one of those rare cases where the humour doesn't prevent each film from being an effective genre piece.

The film will definitely resonate most with British audiences but will find a home overseas as there is plenty of universal humour. 2012 wasn't a great year for British film and I was very disappointed that BAFTA failed to recognise any of the superb work on display from two fantastic comedy performers and one of the most talented British directors of recent years. Sightseers is, without a shadow of doubt, the funniest film of 2012.

(Trailer contains strong language).

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