2013, Movies

A Field in England (2013, Ben Wheatley)

I don’t really know where to begin with this film. Experimental or avant garde cinema – whether that cinema forsakes narrative or not – rarely has a sense of humour.

So I must say that it is a bit of a delight to watch an obviously “experimental” narrative film – kind of a rare thing these days, I should think – that has a strong sense of humour. I’m pretty sure it is the humour alone that saves this film from being either a disaster or boring.

I have never been big on film effects unless I see a point – though I must admit the camera effects achieved in this film’s “trippiest” sequence are indeed well done, even though they gave me a headache – and I am more a fan of audio gimmickry, which this film also possesses but when a film is this funny in addition to being “trippy” or “avant garde” or what have you, you can kind of excuse the pretension. Frankly, I don’t know why someone would decide their story needed such effects, but the filmmakers managed to make it entertaining and ambiguous – i.e. thought-provoking – enough that you kind of don’t care.

I have rarely struggled so hard with my reaction to a movie because on the one hand I laughed out loud more times than I could count, on the other hand I find such “trip” sequences to be kind of obnoxious – at least in narrative features – and though I am one who appreciates ambiguity this much ambiguity can also be obnoxious. But I think I have come to the conclusion that the humour – and some very beautiful shots, and some really neat use of audio – sort of redeem whatever pretension was bugging me. So I think I liked it. And I think you should probably see it, because even though it is weird, and a bit of a mess, it’s an entertaining weird mess, and sure as hell is thought- and conversation-provoking.


PS People can be idiots: Some Ryerson students – a few of whom were not even aware they were at a TIFF screening – sat behind us before we moved, and proceeded to tell each other how terrible this movie would be – why were they even at the screening then? – as well as explaining the plot to each other (and therefore me). But not only do I hate knowing too much about movies before I see them, but these people got the plot wrong. Why would they do this? I know the answer: they were unaware that the people around them did not appreciate such a conversation before the movie started. But it was still really annoying and we moved after I should have. I should have moved after “Guys are you ready for possibly the worst movie you will ever see?” No he hadn’t seen it yet.

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