The Robert Burns Centre Film Theatre Film Club is beginning to worry me!! The conversation that took place following this week’s movie involved a discussion that centred on whether all the killings in the film were valid, and the funny part about it was that this intelligent adult audience agreed that all of them were .… except maybe the lone jogger? So if mysterious dead bodies start appearing across Dumfries and Galloway I would suggest that the police start their investigations questioning those that attended the Film Club screening of the British black comedy Sightseers (2012)!!!!!!
Ben Wheatley’s third feature film following Down Terrace (2009) and Kill List (2011) was hosted by Rachel Findlay who had really done her homework on both Wheatley and the two main actors/writers Alice Lowe and Steve Oram, who played Tina and Chris, and I make no apology for reproducing her introduction in full as follows:
Ben Wheatley's route to success in filmmaking is pretty interesting. Initially he made short films and animations, which he would send off in the usual way to film festivals. Then he started putting his work onto his own website, and concentrated on animations at this point in time, mainly because this was easier to control, coordinate and complete as it involved only him and his own time.
He then started to get involved with various online communities, and in particular found a web forum called beta. He started posting pieces of his work on the forum, which gave him instant feedback, and helped him to develop his current projects. Around this time he created a movie of his friend appearing to jump over a moving car, which went viral on YouTube with over 10 million views. Large media companies started to contact him to get him involved in commercial projects and in 2006 he won a Lion at the Cannes Advertising Festival for a viral marketing campaign for a video gaming company. From this, he went on to work on several television comedy shows, including BBC3's comedy The Wrong Door. It was on this show that he originally worked with the two stars of this week’s film, Alice Lowe and Steve Oram.
Alice and Steve are both from the Midlands, and when they first met and worked together, mainly on TV comedies, they discovered a shared childhood love of camping holidays. Partly from this they developed the characters Tina and Chris who grew into a stand-up comedy act. They made a short film to pitch this idea to TV companies, but struggled to get any interest. At some point, the pitch was put to Ben Wheatley, and he took the project on. The final screenplay for the movie was written by Alice Lowe and Steve Oram, but with additional material from Amy Jump, who is also Wheatley's wife.
Tina is thirty something, living with her over powering crippled mother who will not forgive her for the death of there beloved pooch Poppy, who accidently got caught up with Tina’s knitting. When her new boyfriend Chris offers to take the brow beaten spinster on a caravan holiday Tina readily accepts even if her neurotic mother is dead against it, who announces to Chris on their departure that she does not like him (mothering laws eh!). Setting off on their caravan travelogue the idea is to visit places of interest that the rather domineering Chris has planned out for them. But the journey gets a little more complex when they visit the Crich Tramway Village in Derbyshire and Chris backs the caravan over a lout for dropping litter and kills him. Instead of Tina being appalled by this incident she seems to be turned on by it and gradually becomes the more assertive partner. Continuing on their road trip they encounter one or two other obnoxious folk and a giant pencil!
Howls of laughter accompanied the viewing of the movie followed by suggestions that parts of this brummie accented Tarantinoesque film should be used in a Caravan Club of Great Britain promotion or in an anti-litter campaign? Wheatley’s been very clever in that the killing spree seems completely normal and the lengthy development of the two main characters and the normality of the detail in the film has given us two totally believably, rounded individuals whom strangely enough you cannot fail to like. The film brings to mind Mike Leigh’s 1976 BBC Play for Today Nuts in May, which also involves a couple on a camping trip, Withnail and I (1987) where two young ‘gentlemen’ leave the big city for a trip to the countryside and Natural Born Killers (1994) a Tarantino story about a couple, both victims of a traumatic childhood, who become lovers and mass murderers but none of these influences are allowed to encroach on this splendid British comedy. I could not leave this blog without mentioning the wonderful cinematography that underlines the beautiful English countryside and for once a soundtrack that actually enhances the movie. Can’t wait for the Sightseers sequel to see how Tina, on her return from her eventful holiday, deals with her mother?