SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2013
By Don Simpson | January 20, 2013
Director: Ben Wheatley
Writers: Steve Oram, Alice Lowe
Starring: Steve Oram, Alice Lowe, Eileen Davies, Richard Glover, Monica Dolan, Jonathan Aris, Richard Lumsden, Rachel Austin, Tony Way
Chris (Steve Oram) and Tina (Alice Lowe) have only been dating for a few months when Chris suggests that they drive across the rolling countryside of Britain for a week-long vacation. Chris wants to show Tina his “world,” which basically means taking her to various sites of historical significance that he holds dear to his heart. The trip will also whisk Tina away from her emotionally manipulative mother (Eileen Davies), who has kept Tina from doing much of anything with her life.
It is not long after they hitch up Chris’ Abbey Oxford Caravan and hit the road that their getaway takes on other connotations. It quickly becomes apparent that Chris has anger management issues, and Tina’s mental state is no less fragile. The claustrophobic space inside the caravan serves as a boiling pot for their emotions; either one of them can snap at any time.
Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers humorously observes masculine and feminine aggression, sticking with (and possibly satirizing) the gender stereotypes of men being overly-methodical and women being overly-emotional. Violence for each of the characters is triggered and unleashed much differently, and they both rationalize their violent acts in different ways as well. Whether it is purposeful or not, Wheatley’s film becomes an intriguing — and comical — social commentary on aggression; yet, simultaneously, the violence is totally rationalized by the characters’ irrationality. So by making the characters “crazy,” this differentiates them from “normal” society and fully explains their abnormal behavior. That, of course, also makes the violence much easier for us — the audience — to laugh at without any pesky moral dilemmas to burden us with guilt.