SIGHTSEERS **** UK 2012 88 mins
Director Ben Wheatley and co-writer Amy Jump follow up the magnificently intense KILL LIST with a deceptively droll black comedy that taps into a similar kind of down-home, genre-blending niche. Homely 34 year old loner Alice Lowe, grieving from the comically tragic death of her beloved dog, takes a camper-van tour around Yorkshire with ginger, bearded boyfriend Steve Oram, an “erotic odyssey” of pencil museums and tea shops designed to cure Oram’s “creative constipation”. During the course of the adventure, Lowe discovers her bloke’s one Achilles Heel : everyday social annoyances (from littering to snobbery) enrage him to the point of murder. Punctuated by gruesome slapstick violence and blackly hilarious one-liners (“He’s a Daily Mail reader”), SIGHTSEERS is nonetheless dominated by an unusually warm relationship between two unselfconsciously quirky misfits. Capturing a strangely romanticised vision of their outwardly dreary home counties road trip, Wheatley alternates grisly details of head trauma with a perfect storm of catchphrases (“Mint me”) and somewhat askew lovers’ tiffs (“That is not my vagina!”). Oram and Lowe are a dual comic tour de force, and it climaxes with a suitably downbeat, stark ending that changes Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “The Power of Love” forever.
Review by Steven West