Film Review: Sightseers

Posted in Film, Reviews
By Sam Bathe on 30 Nov 2012

For some, a trip to the Crich Tramway Museum, Ribblehead Viaduct or Keswick Pencil Museum would be enough to drive them to murder, but for holidayers Chris and Tina, it’s littering and rude behaviour that’ll do the trick. Taking in the finest sights the Midlands and northern England have to offer, our happy couple are enjoying an “erotic odyssey” in a caravan around the UK, but after they knock off the first irritating sightseer they encounter, soon it’s a second, a third, then a bride-to-be, and things go quickly from a spur of the moment killing to simply out of hand.

Written by stars Alice Lowe and Steve Oram like they’re movie veterans, their understated performances suit the roles perfectly while the script plays British stereotypes to perfection. Just sadly the duo are a little let down by things behind the camera.

Despite decent pacing throughout the ending feels incredibly rushed, like they’d reached 83 minutes on the running time and had to cut the last 20 of plot down to just five. Director Ben Wheatley’s uncompromising style fits the deadpan humour perfectly but despite the movie’s comic tones, the characters are still so unappealing that the movie’s overall nature proves restrictive.

While it’s nothing new to fill a movie with characters you probably wouldn’t be friends with in the outside world, it is a real issue they’re not give a human side we can grapple on to. It’s a pattern now that Wheatley produces one-dimensional, unsympathetic characters that so rarely trigger a heartfelt response, and when those characters spend the whole movie hogging time on the screen, it becomes a major problem.

Though act one introduces the characters with such great subtlety, Sightseers, humour aside, must go down as a great disappointment, and a great opportunity missed. The darkly comic tone is employed to perfection, but the movie only ever offers a plan A, and when that start need a little invention can’t find anywhere else to go.

Sightseers is quintessentially British which proves to be both good and bad. Celebrating our ridiculous attractions with a mixture of tongue-in-cheek humour and genuine fascination, you’ll raise a smile and certainly leave the theatre hitting the standard laugh quotient to count the comedy aspect a success. But in proving so stubborn with regards to plot and character development, but the time the credits role the more entertaining  aspects of the movie are lost and forgotten, and problems with the one-note central characters come so obviously to the fore, undoing all the good the film worked so hard on before.


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