Sightseers

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Sightseers
Sightseers film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ben Wheatley
Produced by Edgar Wright
Jenny Borgars
Katherine Butler
Claire Jones
Matthew Justice
Nira Park
Danny Perkins
Andrew Starke
Written by Alice Lowe
Steve Oram
Uncredited:
Amy Jump
Starring Alice Lowe
Steve Oram
Music by Jim Williams
Cinematography Laurie Rose
Edited by Robin Hill
Amy Jump
Ben Wheatley
Production
  company
StudioCanal
Big Talk Pictures
Film4 Productions
BFI Film Fund
Rook Films
Distributed by StudioCanal UK (UK)
IFC Films (USA)
Rialto Distribution (Australia, New Zealand)
Release date(s)
  • 23 May 2012 (2012-05-23) (Cannes)
  • November 30, 2012 (2012-11-30) (U.K.)
[1]
Running time 90 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Box office $2,102,166[2]

Sightseers is a British black comedy film directed by Ben Wheatley and written by and starring Alice Lowe and Steve Oram, with additional material written by co-editor Amy Jump.[3]

It is produced by Edgar Wright and Nira Park, among others. The film was selected to be screened in the Directors' Fortnight section at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.[4][5]

Plot[edit]

Chris (Steve Oram) is a caravan fan and aspiring writer who takes his girlfriend Tina (Alice Lowe) on a road trip, much to the chagrin of Tina's mother, who has never forgiven Tina for the death of their dog "Poppy". At their first stop, a tramway museum, Chris confronts a man (Tony Way) who is littering, and the man refuses to pick up his trash. When they get back to their car, Chris runs him over and kills him, which upsets the couple but they continue onward on their trip. Chris claims that the death was an accident, but his smirk—visible to the camera but not to Tina—in the immediate aftermath makes it clear it was deliberate.

At a caravan park, Chris manages to beat a couple to a good spot. They later meet the couple, Janice and Ian (Monica Dolan and Jonathan Aris), the latter of whom is asserted to be an accomplished writer by Janice, something that makes Chris jealous. When Ian reveals that he is going for a walk the next morning, Chris follows him, hits him in the head with a rock and pushes him off the cliff. When they are about to leave, Tina spots Ian's dog Banjo who bears a striking resemblance to the deceased dog Poppy. They take Banjo and drive off to their next stop, Chris calling the dog Banjo, and Tina calling the dog Poppy.

They go clothes shopping and the store owner informs them of Ian's death. Tina, who noticed Chris had bloody hands and was out when Ian is supposed to have died, quickly grows suspicious. When she discovers that Chris has been using Ian's camera, he confesses to Ian's murder. At a World Heritage park, Banjo defecates on the ground and a tourist (Richard Lumsden) tells Tina to clear up the mess. Chris arrives and encourages Tina to claim that the man tried to rape her. A row ensues, and Chris hits him on the head with a branch. He then smashes the body into a rock, kills him, and makes it look like the man was raped.

While driving, they hear on the radio that police are investigating the man's death. At the caravan park, Chris meets Martin (Richard Glover), a caravan engineer who is testing a mini-caravan that can be attached to the back of a bicycle. While on a romantic date at a restaurant, Tina goes to the bathroom, while Chailey Morris, a bride-to-be, has a hen party a few tables over. When Tina returns, she finds Chris kissing Chailey as part of a bachelorette dare for the bride. Upset, Tina leaves the building and follows Chailey and pushes Chailey over the railing, where her head explodes. While waiting for Tina, Chris witnesses the murder. When Tina gets in the car, Chris says he couldn't kill a woman. That night, Chris has a surreal dream where he chases Tina through a forest. In the forest, he catches up to her, only to discover she is a vampire. Intercut with the dream are quick scenes of them fighting, an owl, them at another tourist site, a group of policemen walking Tina off a bridge, Chris talking to Tina's mother, him writing in a notebook, and a red river.

The next morning, Tina discovers that she has lost a necklace that Chris had given her, possibly when killing Chailey. They are about to go to a tourist attraction, but Chris reveals he is helping Martin make some modifications to his caravan. They have an argument, which ends in Tina driving off. Back at the caravan park, Martin and Chris smoke marijuana and test the caravan. At the museum, Tina writes Chris a letter that says she wanted to tell him something, but she tears the letter apart. Crying, she calls her mother and is about to confess to the murders, when her mother hangs up. Later that night, Tina tries to seduce Chris by talking about the murders, but turns him off.

Chris wakes up to find Tina has left him sleeping in the caravan and is speeding down the highway. He calls her and tells her to pull over. On the brink of insanity, Tina notices a jogger and pulls over, running him over in the process. Chris panics and Tina mocks him by talking over the similarities of the first murder and calling it the first murder "they've done together". Chris, who was writing a book, calls her a bad influence and that the murders haven't been helping his writing process. The couple argues before Chris hides the body in the forest in a location where it could be seen from the road, which Tina proceeds to mock.

While fleeing the scene, they hear on the radio that police have found the body of Chailey Morris and police are looking for people fitting the descriptions of Chris and Tina. They drive to a mountain, where they set up camp and Chris is happy to see Ribblehead Viaduct in the distance, the final destination on their sightseeing holiday. When a hailstorm makes them go inside the caravan, Chris falls asleep and Tina looks at his notebook. She finds a drawing of her and Chris standing on the viaduct, and realises that Chris has planned on committing suicide from the viaduct with Tina.

A few minutes later, Martin arrives on his bike with his mini-caravan and Banjo. While Chris is outside, she tells Martin that Chris is manipulative and domineering. She tries to seduce him, but when they are interrupted by Chris's return, she tells Chris that Martin propositioned her in a particularly implausible and repulsive manner. Chris accepts that if the allegations are true, as an intellectual exercise, it would be grounds to murder Martin, but he communicates this in a sufficiently ambiguous way that Martin is unaware of the real topic of discussion, and Martin might even think that Chris is saying that he has no problem with Martin's supposed behavior. Chris agrees with Martin that Martin should go back to his mini-caravan, and after Martin has gone, Chris and Tina have a fight over whether the dog should be called by the name "Poppy" or "Banjo". Upset, Tina pushes Martin's mini-caravan off the cliff, with him still in it. She re-enters their caravan and calmly starts knitting. She says the problem is over and Chris runs outside, only to find Martin's dead body. He insults Tina and they fight, which ends in them having sex.

Chris sets the caravan on fire and he passionately kisses Tina as they watch the caravan burn in the distance. They run to the Ribblehead Viaduct with Banjo. They go to the top of the viaduct and climb onto the ledge, holding hands. Chris asks Tina if she enjoyed the holiday and she says it was brilliant. He apologises for insulting her and asks if she really wants to kill herself. Tina lets Banjo off her leash and she runs off. Just as Chris steps off the viaduct, Tina lets go of his hand, watching as he falls to the ground and dies. Tina stares at her hand as the screen cuts to black.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The characters came together seven years before the film came out as Lowe and Oram swapped stories based on their common background and childhood holiday experiences. However, the pitch kept getting turned down for being too dark, so they put it online and Lowe sent the link to Edgar Wright, with whom she had worked on Hot Fuzz. Wright greenlit the project, so Lowe and Oram did more research and took a caravanning holiday to the locations that would go on to be featured in the film.[6] Ben Wheatley has said that all the locations were very helpful, even after they explained the nature of the film, because they "tried to make sure that it was open and fair to places, and that they weren’t the butt of jokes."[7]

The two were also inspired by Withnail and I.[6]

Reception[edit]

The critical reception has been positive, with review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes giving it a rating of 85% based on 94 reviews.[8]

Peter Bradshaw reviewed the film twice for The Guardian, first after its preview at Cannes, when he suggested "Wheatley could be suffering from difficult third album syndrome: this is not as mysterious and interesting as Kill List; its effects are more obvious and the encounters between the naturalistically conceived antiheroes and the incidental, sketch-comedy posh characters is a little uneasy. By the end, I got the sense that in terms of character and narrative the film was running out of ideas – just a bit."[9] However, he looked at it again on its theatrical release and admitted that "when I first saw it, I think I might have got out of bed the right side" going on to say "a second viewing has further revealed just how superb are the effortless performances of Steve Oram and Alice Lowe, who are the movie's writers (working with Wheatley's longtime co-writer Amy Jump), and whose creative ownership makes a purely auteurist comparison with Kill List slightly less relevant." He suggests a number of parallels: "an obvious comparison with Mike Leigh's Nuts in May, and there are even traces of Victoria Wood and Alan Bennett, whose gentler, observational comedy is turned into something nightmarish, bringing in an exquisitely horrible Readers' Wives aesthetic", concluding that "[t]he chilling and transgressive flourishes are carried off with deadpan confidence; it's a distinctive and brutally unsettling piece of work."[10] Kim Newman wrote in Empire magazine that Sightseers is a "uniquely British blend of excruciating comedy of embarrassment and outright grue, not quite as disorientating in its mood shifts as Kill List but just as impressive a film."[11] The Guardian asked an editor of Caravan Magazine for his opinion and he thought the film, which he described as "absolutely brilliant", accurately captured the details of caravanning holidays.[12]

However, the praise wasn't unanimous. The Financial Times' Nigel Andrews conclusion was "There are a few laughs; a few wise nods. But before the end fatigue arrives and doesn’t go away."[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.filmdates.co.uk/films/4152-sightseers/
  2. ^ http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=sightseers.htm
  3. ^ Plumb, Ali (3 October 2011). "Ben Wheatley Is Now Shooting Sightseers". Empire. Retrieved 5 January 2012. 
  4. ^ Leffler, Rebecca (24 April 2012). "Cannes 2012: Michel Gondry’s 'The We & The I' to Open Director's Fortnight". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  5. ^ "2012 Selection". quinzaine-realisateurs.com. Directors' Fortnight. Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Godfrey, Alex (23 November 2012). "Sightseers: Alice Lowe and the secret terrors of caravanning". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 December 2012. 
  7. ^ Brew, Simon (29 November 2012). "Ben Wheatley interview: Sightseers, Freakshift, A Field In England". Den of Geek. Retrieved 2 December 2012. 
  8. ^ Sightseers at Rotten Tomatoes
  9. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (24 May 2012). "Cannes 2012: Sightseers – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 December 2012. 3/5 stars
  10. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (29 November 2012). "Sightseers – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 December 2012. 4/5 stars
  11. ^ Newman, Kim (25 November 2012). "Empire's Sightseers Movie Review". Empire. Retrieved 2 December 2012. 4/5 stars
  12. ^ Barnett, Laura (4 December 2012). "A caravan enthusiast's verdict on Sightseers". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 December 2012. 
  13. ^ Andrews, Nigel (29 November 2012). "Feeding frenzy in the barnyard". Financial Times. Retrieved 2 December 2012. 3/5 stars

External links[edit]