Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Morvern Callar (2002)

Played by the always enigmatic Samantha Morton, the eponymous Morvern Callar is a blank page waiting to be written on. When her boyfriend takes his own life, she seizes what he has written - the manuscript for a novel - and decides to pass it off to a publisher as her own work; but first she must dispose of his body.

There is a sense throughout the film that it is Morvern's actual life, just as much as it is her dream life of wealth and freedom, that truly begins from that moment on. Like a child or an ethereal being, everything she encounters in the course of the film - from an understanding of herself as a sexual being attractive to others, to more simpler things such as music her boyfriend left her and the nature that so entrances her in the rural areas of Scotland and Spain ("I like the ants" she naively tells her publishers) - seems as if to be for the first time. Her backstory is kept elusively brief - she mentions at one point that she was brought up in foster care - and her role as an Englishwoman in Scotland (a decision that differs from the original novel) only adds to this sense of the enigmatic and of someone never really belonging or existing. If it wasn't for her longstanding friendship with Lanna (Kathleen McDermott, who was spotted by the film's casting director whilst working as a hairdresser) the audience could be forgiven for thinking that this strange, near-emotionless protagonist had beamed down from the skies just a few seconds before the opening credits commenced.

Directed by Lynne Ramsay, Morvern Caller is an expressive visual and aural mood piece treat and first class filmmaking with near-dreamy scenes (Morvern walking through the supermarket she works in as Lee Hazlewood's Some Velvet Morning emanates from her walkman to fill the soundtrack, stumbling across a village festival in the mountains of Spain, those opening moments with the flashing Christmas tree, the and Morvern's unnaturally calm cutting up and disposing of the body - the graphic nature of which is wisely left to the imagination; no Shallow Grave-like horror here, despite its mutual Scottish setting) that linger long in the memory.

Some people don't like this. Some people are dicks.

Oh and there's a neat in-joke concerning Alwin K├╝chler, the film's German cinematographer, that you have to listen out for.

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