Sightseers Film Review
Sightseers is a gloriously dark, gory caravan trip across Great Britain that will have you laughing when you probably ought not to. Top Gear loathe them, and Sky One’s Brainiac constantly blew them up, yet Sightseers is something more of an homage to the Great British caravan. Alice Lowe and Steve Oram play Tina and Chris, who escape the dull suburbia of the midlands to explore the highlights of Great Britain’s attractions. All is not as it seems, and as we chart the developing romance and relationship between our two characters, we also start racking up a body count that far exceeds the number of sites they visit. I use ‘attractions’ lightly as I doubt few of us would have intentionally traveled to visit the Ribble Viaduct,Keswick Pencil Museum or Crich Tramway Museum, although perhaps after seeing the film they may notice a boost in visitor numbers?
2012 has not been one of the recent golden years for British films. Sure, there are huge Hollywood productions with British actors and actresses stealing the show, but for those written, filmed and produced on our own sceptred isle, I think we’ve been quite let down. Just squeaking in at the end of the year though, Sightseers manages to turn that around with something a little bit different and more than a little bit special. The script was penned by our two leads, Lowe and Oram, and this lends itself to some great character acting and development to a level I don’t think I have seen for a while.
Tina and Chris are very watchable, and set against the constantly grey skies, the dull greenery along the roadside and places which they choose to stop, they very much stand out against the background. Tina is a trapped woman, trapped in the rather Freudian relationship she shares with her Mother at their home in the Midlands, and also trapped within herself, as a person who has never been able to understand herself, her desires and her capabilities fully. Steve is pleasantly average chap with a self deprecating sense of humour, a ginger beard, and a rather polite nature that seems, if anything, too plain to be true. Of course, how it all begins is simply that, and we see Tina and Chris develop as a couple, and one that makes us question how they function as individuals outside of their peculiar unit. Lowe and Oram have obviously spent a lot of time creating these people, and whilst their absurd personality traits might not be their own, they certainly borrow from personal experiences in creating the script.
If you’ve ever gone up and down the UK in a caravan, you’ll instantly connect with much of this film – the campsites are full of some strange people, and the jealousy of someone with a better caravan. Its quite plain that Oram and Lowe, both originally from the Midlands, enjoyed these holidays when they were younger with their families rather than expensive trips abroad. Although whether they enjoyed those trips or not is perhaps something for them to answer, since if this is what they’ve taken away from them, perhaps they weren’t the fun family trips you might have expected.
I’d like to compare this to other films, to say that its a bit like Natural Born Killers, Withnail and I, Badlands and maybe a bit of Carry on Camping in there too – but realistically it is a complex piece of work that should stand in its own right. Its an awkward, very British road trip film, a cerebral development of a dependant relationship with an undercurrent of murderous rage that bubbles forth when provoked. A great deal of credit has to be given to Ben Wheatley, a proven talent in directing whose burgeoning career will beget even greater films. His previous works Down Terrace and Kill List, which if you haven’t seen, I would recommend, stand quite highly as low budget British films that hold a number of independent film awards. Starting as a writer, producer and director, then taking a step back to writing and directing, and now for sightseers only directing, his distance from the source material is telling, and whilst he is capable of getting some great performances out of Oram and Lowe against some fantastic shots of a dull British countryside, there is something that lacks in this from his previous work.
Stella Artois have granted Sightseers its fourth bursary of the year. A scheme aimed to support creative talent and provide unique cinematic experience to movie fans, cementing the brand’s long established tradition of supporting film – see their latest advert highlighting some of the most classic moments in cinema history, for example. Sightseers has had its lot cast in with Imposter, LCD Soundsystem’s Shut Up and Play the Hits and the utterly amazing Looper. Fine company if you ask me!
Sightseers is funny, but not strong enough to stand alone as an out-and-out comedy, and also a touch horrific, yet certainly not strong enough to be called a horror. Its a film of its own and certainly a good one. I definitely think that you should see if it you appreciate a good British film, have ever been in a caravan or want a laugh and don’t mind the odd bloody murder. My main takeaway from this is that caravan people are as weird as we all though – I will be steering clear of them for a while!
Below are the amusing character posters: