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London Film Festival 2012: Sightseers - Review

Sightseers

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

BEN Wheatley’s third film is his most accessible but still remains an extreme piece of filmmaking.

A darkly comic serial killer road movie, the film combines moments of laugh out loud comedy with whince inducing violence while also serving as an engrossing human drama.

Wheatley didn’t write this one, however. Rather, the macabre tale comes from the minds of leading duo Alice Lowe and Steve Oram, who have stretched their original stage show having extensively researched the idea by taking their own road trip together to find out what annoyed them.

The story picks up as quiet, unassuming Tina (Lowe) is taken on holiday by new boyfriend Chris (Oram), against the wishes of her bitter, domineering mother.

Initially, things start out well but when Chris ‘accidentally’ runs over a fellow tourist he had earlier had an altercation with over littering, Tina begins to suspect that all may not be mentally right with her new man.

Rather than putting a stop to it or running away, however, she slowly becomes an accomplice and the two begin a murder spree, bumping off anyone who offends their sensibilities.

Sightseers undoubtedly charts some dark territory and some of its violence will sit uncomfortably alongside the humour for certain viewers.

But it’s clever for the way in which it confronts the issue of violence and how audiences have become de-sensitized to it, while also never allowing you to sympathise too much with its otherwise amiable leading duo.

For while their actions are increasingly abhorrent, Tina and Chris possess an everyman quality that makes them scarily easy to relate to in a lot of their ways.

Lowe’s Tina, in particular, is a fascinating character to watch develop, emerging from the shadow of her mother into someone that’s every bit as terrifying. And yet early on you root for her to make the right decisions every step along the way.

It’s a device that almost makes you complicit in urging this couple on and laughing at each comeuppance until the reality of the violence hits home.

Sightseers is therefore as disturbing as it is amusing. But it grips as a character study and confirms Wheatley as one of the UK’s brightest young filmmakers, while also marking a personal success for Lowe and Oram as well.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 88mins
UK Release Date: November 30, 2012
London Film Festival Dates: Saturday, October 20 (OWE2) and Sunday, October 21 (Hackney)