Film Reviews and Discussion.
Dir: Ben Wheatley
Dur: 88 mins
‘If you should go down to the woods today….’
Comedic highs and bludgeoning blows in this rampaging caravanning holiday.
The caravanning holiday. What a peculiarly British thing to do. Especially with the infamous and notorious British climate. Immediate associations: Damp. Drizzle. Disappointment. And arguments. Always those niggling arguments.
This feature, borne from comedian, Steve Oram, and comedienne, Alice Lowe’s, live stage show is a rollicking ride through the landscape of Britain, with its parochial quirks and tucked away museums.
Lowe plays Tina, who is completely infatuated with her new boyfriend, Chris (Oram). This does not sit comfortably with her needy and dependent mother, Carol. Despite protestations, Tina leaves her mother to embark on a caravan holiday with Chris. Carol is not happy with this development one jot, but is unable to steer the infatuated Tina away from the charms of her new man. Chris, for what it is worth, is a struggling writer looking for material for a novel. The chance of a holiday offers the opportunity to forward both his ideas and his blossoming romance. This road trip will greatly alter them both.
It has been confirmed that much of the dialogue was improvised by the two comedians. This this lends a natural air to the piece. It also makes it very funny indeed. There is an offbeat humour that manages to be both dark and light, thoughtful and throwaway, innocent and profane. A great chemistry palpably pumps away (occasionally, literally) between the two. For non-professional actors, they have managed to walk a tightrope, creating a romance that, for all the warped absurdities of the trajectory that the story holds, feels earnest, sweet and real.
This is concise filmmaking, which is a credit to Ben Wheatley’s editing process. There is no fat. It is concise, fast and trim, just like one of the murders that may occur as the duo experience a testing and interfering Daily Mail reader whilst out walking on the hills. There are echoes of Mike Leigh’s Nuts In May (1976) and also, to a lesser degree, the principle thrust of Falling Down (1993). There is also a nod to the real life dynamic of Fred and Rose West with their evil tunnel-vision version of right and wrong, fun and pleasure. This resonates in the weight of power between the two as matters progress.
This is a very fun and enjoyable outing. In a very darkly comic way. Don’t try this at home, folks. Do watch them do it though. Not in that way, obviously. Although the dog did seem to enjoy it.
If you like this, try this: Nuts In May (1976) – it is an obvious choice, but this Play for Today Mike Leigh follow-up to Abigail’s Party is extremely funny and even signposts the post-millennial passion for awkward humour as used in the Office et al. The plot; two hippies go on a camping holiday, where people encroach their affinity with the natural habitat of the campsite. Rage, jealousy and chaos ensues.
You can see the trailer for Sightseers here: