Movie Review – Sightseers (2012)
Radio Newsreader:The police announced today that they’re pursuing a ginger-faced man and an angry woman in connection with inquiries.
2012’s Sightseers is directed by Ben Wheatley, who had previously directed the well-received Kill List (2011). Written by and starring Alice Lowe and Steve Oram, the two central characters originated as a dark comedic routine in which the actors would pretend to drive through the countryside, commenting on the scenery, and occasionally referencing the casual murders they had committed. Eventually they developed a film idea and after numerous rejections pitched the idea to Edgar Wright, who took on production of the project.
Lowe and Oram are so comfortable with their creations, Tina and Chris, that they embody them with an immediately convincing ease. The characters are so self-absorbed and obsessed with their own little world that they don’t empathize with anyone else. When someone from the outside disturbs their idyllic, self-righteous sensibility, they react homicidally. The humor is restrained and understated in a manner that’s very British, and which works perfectly for the tone of the film.
Sightseers is a well-balanced black comedy where the violence, even though placed in a humorous context, is unflinchingly brutal. It doesn’t let you forget that a life has been lost even as you laugh (uncomfortably) at the situation, and it’s this intelligent treatment of the characters’ actions and their journey that keeps the concept from growing stale. Wheatley makes you feel guilty, like an accomplice to their crimes, each time they murder and we again begin to follow them in their unglamorous, modernly British Bonnie and Clyde routine. As they drive deeper into the countryside they retreat more into their own little world, and civilization and our sympathies are gradually left behind.