Last night Leslie and I checked out the first of many films debuting here at the Sundance Film Festival. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Sundance, it is one of of the largest independent film festivals in the world with nearly 50,000 attendees. This is a place where you can see all the latest films before they hit theaters, and for the industry it’s a place where producers take chances on buying films to send them into the mainstream.
Last night we saw Ben Wheatley’s film Sightseers. Sightseers was especially interesting to Leslie and I because the premise was a couple taking a break from their lives to get into a camper and see the country. Some of you might remember that Leslie and I did the same thing back in 2010 where we spent 6 months driving all over the USA in an old RV – so we had to see this film. Now if you are a purest and don’t even like seeing previews stop reading now.
Ok, after seeing the preview, you have some idea what this film is about. It’s brought to you by the dark genius behind Shaun of the Dead and it definitely shows. The film follows a weird love affair between Chris and Tina (who lives with a very controlling mother in England.) They take a trip through the beautiful Northern Irish and British countryside and the cinematography captures its beauty with an ominous tone. Things go astray when Chris’s anger gets the bast of him in some very mundane occurrences and something snaps in Tina along the way as well. I don’t want to tell you much because it is a very good movie but I will tell you that with today’s makeup artists, the movie is very graphic and realistic, and potentially disturbing. It also has a sick sense of humor which I can appreciate. I’m sure if it isn’t a mainstream hit, it will easily become a cult-classic.
With all that said, let me tell you what it was like going into this film as someone who only knew it was a movie about a couple taking an rv trip. It was as if I went to the movie SAW 4 and thought it was a home improvement show. In the past 2 years I have been doing my best to steer clear of glorified violence. It’s a personal thing, but I don’t find it too healthy to consume large amounts of movies, tv, and video games about murder, rape, and revenge. (There was no rape in this film) I find there to be serious hypocrisy around me with people being super affected by the Sandy Hook shooting, and the Batman shooting, and everything else, and then in their downtime they are perfecting headshots in Black Ops 2, and laughing hysterically at a man’s head being bashed in for asking someone to clean up their dog’s shit. (Sightseers)
So personally, while this movie was well made, funny and interesting, if I could go back and see something else I would have. Once again, not because it wasn’t good, but just because I am doing my best to eliminate those images from my psyche.
If you know what you are getting into, and love dark comedies with graphic violence, you will be stoked to see Sightseers. It definitely challenges the viewer and offers a few shocking moments as well as a few laugh out loud ones. It also feels like a unique experience which is getting rarer in modern cinema.
(If the editors are reading this you have a bad edit in the beginning of the film where the mom is combing her daughter’s hair. The mom is speaking but her mouth isn’t moving.)