Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
New NSFW, Extremely Graphic, Adults-Only Poster For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' New NSFW, Extremely Graphic, Adults-Only Poster For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' First Official Look: Jared Leto As The Joker In 'Suicide Squad' First Official Look: Jared Leto As The Joker In 'Suicide Squad' Joss Whedon Says He Earned More Making 'Dr. Horrible' Than 'The Avengers,' Weighs In On Marvel Vs. DC Joss Whedon Says He Earned More Making 'Dr. Horrible' Than 'The Avengers,' Weighs In On Marvel Vs. DC Tom Hardy Met Mel Gibson And Made Him A Bracelet, Says Michael Fassbender Was "The Sh*t" In School Tom Hardy Met Mel Gibson And Made Him A Bracelet, Says Michael Fassbender Was "The Sh*t" In School Native Actors Walk Off Set Of Adam Sandler's 'Ridiculous 6' Over Disrespectful, Insulting Script Native Actors Walk Off Set Of Adam Sandler's 'Ridiculous 6' Over Disrespectful, Insulting Script Watch: Johnny Depp Rages As Whitey Bulger In First Trailer For Gangster Tale 'Black Mass' Watch: Johnny Depp Rages As Whitey Bulger In First Trailer For Gangster Tale 'Black Mass' Gaspar Noe's 3D 'Love' And More Added To Cannes Film Festival Lineup Gaspar Noe's 3D 'Love' And More Added To Cannes Film Festival Lineup First Look: Johnny Depp Goes Gangster In As Whitey Bulger In 'Black Mass' First Look: Johnny Depp Goes Gangster In As Whitey Bulger In 'Black Mass' Watch: Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio, Anne Hathaway, Michael Fassbender And More Talk The Art Of Acting Watch: Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio, Anne Hathaway, Michael Fassbender And More Talk The Art Of Acting Review: Marvel’s ‘Avengers: Age Of Ultron’ Starring Robert Downey Jr. Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson & More Review: Marvel’s ‘Avengers: Age Of Ultron’ Starring Robert Downey Jr. Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson & More Watch: Quentin Tarantino, David Fincher, Christopher Nolan, And More Talk The Art Of Filmmaking Watch: Quentin Tarantino, David Fincher, Christopher Nolan, And More Talk The Art Of Filmmaking Christopher Nolan's Favorite Sequence From His Movies Is The Airplane Kidnapping Scene From 'The Dark Knight Rises' Christopher Nolan's Favorite Sequence From His Movies Is The Airplane Kidnapping Scene From 'The Dark Knight Rises' Joss Whedon Calls Edgar Wright's 'Ant-Man' "The Best Script Marvel Ever Had," Warns Of Serialized Moviemaking Joss Whedon Calls Edgar Wright's 'Ant-Man' "The Best Script Marvel Ever Had," Warns Of Serialized Moviemaking The 41 Most Anticipated Movies Of Summer 2015 The 41 Most Anticipated Movies Of Summer 2015 Watch: First Teaser For 'Star Wars: Rogue One,' Plot Details Confirmed Watch: First Teaser For 'Star Wars: Rogue One,' Plot Details Confirmed The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki

Cannes Review: Ben Wheatley's 'Sightseers' - Or, "Natural Born Campers" - Is A Black-Comedy Holiday Hoot

The Playlist By James Rocchi | The Playlist May 23, 2012 at 7:43PM

After "Down Terrace" and "Kill List," midnight-movie manqués and buffs in the know were wondering what director Ben Wheatley would do next; the answer is, apparently, make you laugh until you sound like a hole in the side of an airplane. "Sightseers," starring and written by Steve Oram and Alice Lowe, starts as Chris (Oram) and Tina (Lowe) embark on a camping tour of Britain, various caves and pencil museums and heritage sights -- a nice, relaxing trip for a couple in their third month of going out. Things go off the rails early, though at a streetcar museum where Chris is incensed by a litterbug … and, later, distractedly backs over the man and kills him.
2
Sightseers

After "Down Terrace" and "Kill List," midnight-movie manqués and buffs in the know were wondering what director Ben Wheatley would do next; the answer is, apparently, make you laugh until you sound like a hole in the side of an airplane. "Sightseers," starring and written by Steve Oram and Alice Lowe, starts as Chris (Oram) and Tina (Lowe) embark on a camping tour of Britain, various caves and pencil museums and heritage sights -- a nice, relaxing trip for a couple in their third month of going out. Things go off the rails early, though, at a streetcar museum where Chris is incensed by a litterbug … and, later, distractedly backs over the man and kills him.

And it turns out that for Chris and Tina -- both emotionally fragile and put-upon, killing people is like eating potato chips: After the first one, it's hard to stop, and once your partner's enjoyed it, well, you might as well too. Part of "Sightseers" plays like a funnier, scarier, British-er "God Bless America," with the exception that for all of their foibles and quirks -- and they each have plenty -- Chris and Tina are always characters, not just pawns of a plot moving towards a predetermined endgame. Yes, they have idiosyncrasies (Tina's love of knitting reaches its nadir, or its zenith, when she produces a garment that is entirely knit, and entirely not right), but they feel real and lived in, no matter what happens around them or what they make happen.

Sightseers

Wheatley blew minds with the what-the-hell-was-that? "Kill List," and while "Sightseers" is far more of a comedy -- even if people are slipping on blood and brains instead of banana peels -- it still proves that Wheatley has an intrinsic and intelligent grasp of the key of strong storytelling, regardless of genre: Make people wonder what's going to happen next. He's also a superb technician; a flashback detailing the fate of Tina's beloved dog Poppy has the sublime, silly confidence of a silent-comedy gag, while several of the film's more shocking moments incorporate excellent camerawork and editing. The films's soundtrack is excellent, as well -- with two versions of "Tainted Love," two versions of "Season of the Witch" and a brilliant use of that most British of hymns, Blake's "Jerusalem."

"Sightseers" never becomes a one-joke film, though, in no small part to the smarts and sly comedy of Lowe and Oram's script and performances. A group of hikers staring deadpan at a public outrage is nigh-perfect, while Tina and a upscale yuppie's discussion of interior design strategy turns into a semantic struggle about "decor" versus "clutter." Wheatley's film is a look at what happens when lives of quiet desperation become very, very loud, and how fast a couple can go from co-dependents to co-conspirators.  "Sightseers" homicidal holiday isn't just a pitch-black comedy made with skill, will and brains; it's also another demonstration that Wheatley is, to use an all-too-appropriate phrase, going places. [A]

This article is related to: Sightseers, Ben Wheatley, Steve Oram, Alice Lowe


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates