Review by Simon Bell
JUST like with her powerful and promising debut Ratcatcher (1999), Lynne
Ramsay's much awaited follow up is pretty shy of plot explainers and rather
rich in thought-provoking visuals and say-what? dialogue.
Ambience and mood rules over all though. So what better way to seduce your audience into the frame than with a prostrate Samantha Morton, mesmerised by nictating Christmas tree lights, lost in thought as she listlessly fingers her dead boyfriend on the kitchen floor.
The bit of trouser's only gone and topped himself and left his girlfriend a note instructing her to have his completed novel dispatched to the publishers for a posthumous print, pronto.
Morvern Callar (for that is the very Scottish name of the film's very English protagonist) subsequently passes off the fortunate literary find as her own, cashes in on it and is very soon spunking it in the Spanish sun with best chum Lanna (the impressive Kathleen McDermott).
But it's not for sangria-soaked shagging that 21-year-old Morvern's decamped from her drab and parochial Scottish Highland surroundings (not to mention her supermarket job). For while her red-headed consort cavorts in a bacchanalian fuck frenzy, the Costa Del Sol provides our misunderstood heroine with a promised-land of a different kind.
Away from the package holidaymakers, Morvern is free to explore the scorched Mediterranean landscape and investigate (or diagnose?) what it is that seems to be wrong with her. This leads her (in a not very roundabout way) into negotiation for a second book deal with the still none-the-wiser publishers. It's now that she can finally contemplate an escape proper to the new life she's been seeking.
While Ramsay's flair is most obvious in composition and oeuvre, the audio is equally important to the piece. The soundtrack is made up almost entirely of an eclectic mixtape Morvern listens to on the walkman left to her by her dead beau.
And the director's objective of externalising the internal proves to be absolutely pivotal. You'll see why when you take indielondon's recommendation seriously and get along to the next screening.
It's tough and heavy-hearted, but worth a look all the same.