Tainted Love – “Sightseers” Review

Sightseers-AliceLoweSteveOram

Tina (Alice Lowe), looking like a young Mary McDonnell, is a sheltered mama’s girl. She’s well past the acceptable age to still be living at home. Her mother is cruel. She casually refers to Tina as an accident. But Tina is about to go on holiday with her understanding new boyfriend Chris (Steve Oram). Chris and Tina set off on the world’s most mundane vacation imaginable. They’re taking a camper around to places like a pencil museum. It’s all so very dull until Chris begins murdering complete strangers.

At first it seems like Chris is killing people based on some misguided principles. The first person he kills is a comically chronic litterer until Chris mows him down. But it turns out he’s not about morals just structure. When Tina begins her own rampage to try and impress Chris, he’s upset by how cavalier she goes about her “business”. It’s a relationship drama (between two psychos) commenting on the banality of evil and the schism between classes in modern British society. But it’s also a hilarious road trip comedy. It’s like Mike Leigh crossed with Badlands.

This type of blend has been done before but Sightseers puts its own unique spin on it in sly fashion. For starters, the humor is dark and the tone is absurd. There are unexpected story turns and tone shifts but they work rather well. Because the film exits in such an absurd arena, it doesn’t need to stop and explain itself. In turn the pace can bulldoze past the shifts and smooth over them. The violence is grotesquely over the top. It’s a counterpoint to the seemingly tranquil backdrop. If you don’t think a man being beat to death with a stick can be funny, then this isn’t going to be for you.

The rapport between the leads is great. Lowe and Oram also wrote the screenplay (Along with Amy Jump) and their comfort with each other shows. Director Ben Wheatley wisely gives them room to play and find the truth under the horrors they’ve written. Wheatley’s biggest contribution is to the atmosphere. He establishes an ironic world early on so we can sit back and enjoy the ride. If the film weren’t so consistently funny it might seem pretentious. Instead, the dead dogs, oversized pencils, homemade lingerie, and the bleak cruel joke of an ending make this a sight worth seeing.

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One response to “Tainted Love – “Sightseers” Review

  1. Pingback: Sightseers (2012) | timneath

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