Monday 3 December 2012


I had an absolutely ruddy amazing day on Saturday, and while it would be improper and probably quite tedious to fill you in on all the excitement (example: I bought some memory foam slippers from BHS - they are SO comfortable), it is entirely necessary that I mention that the highlight of the day was watching Ben Wheatley's coal-black comedy Sightseers at Islington's Screen On The Green.
Because I'm jammy enough to get invited to pre-release screenings for most of the films I see, I don't very often go to normal cinemas with normal people. However after spending an evening in one of London's finest movie emporia I can safely say that I'll be gracing them with my presence more often. When a cinema has a bar in the auditorium, acres of legroom, two-seater sofas, footrests AND a polite and respectful clientele on a Saturday night (a non-existent concept in most multiplexes), you owe it your patronage. I hate to sound like I've just discovered independent cinemas but this really was quite the revelation. Also this was outside:
Almost too delightful.

Anyway, Sightseers. While Nativity 2 may be doing its best to hammer more nails into the coffin of British comedy, Ben Wheatley and his stars Steve Oram and Alice Lowe (who also co-wrote the script with Wheatley's wife Amy Jump) are crowbarring that coffin lid back open again, breathing fresh life back into the not-yet-dead body within and then using the crowbar to bludgeon various innocent people to death in the name of good old inappropriate serial killer LOLs.

Sightseers' trump card is its central relationship between Chris and Tina, two thirtysomething misfits who, despite doing some really quite terrible things, are unfailingly lovable. Their actions arouse empathy to begin with (who hasn't wanted to brutally slay a litterbug in their time?) but as their victims become less guilty and more random, audience empathy becomes something far more complex. That you find yourself rooting for Chris and Tina as they orienteer through not just the recognisable stages of a fledgling relationship (awkward meals, arguments, make-up sex) but also some fairly unconventional ones (stealing dogs, battering ramblers to a bloody pulp) is a testament to Oram and Lowe's exceptional writing and performances.

As the murderous midlanders crack on with their rural rampage, the film simultaneously becomes a travelogue around some of the north of England's most rubbish tourist coldspots, which are also the most unlikely locations in which to smash people's faces in. These include - excitingly for me - the Cumberland Pencil Museum, which I once visited while on a stag weekend in Keswick. You can only imagine what a crazy time that was; at one point we also went to Trotter's World Of Animals.
And just when you think you know exactly where Sightseers is heading, it pulls the rug out from under you again in a delicious final scene, and immediately seals its reputation as the best British film of the year, if you don't count Skyfall which I don't think you can really.

After being the only person in the world underwhelmed by Wheatley's Kill List, I am now firmly aboard the Bendwagon (needs work) and await his already-completed next film A Field In England with baited breath. Hopefully Trotter's World Of Animals gets a look in in this one.


  1. Worth noting that Mr Suit bailed on an arduous cross-country trek across the Lake District to visit that pencil museum. The slacker.

    1. Well while you were risking your life negotiating Sharp Edge, I was checking out the world's biggest pencil. So slacker I may be, but I ask you, who is the richer man?