Sightseers 2012 ★★

Ben Wheatley's third film continues his exploration of quintessentially English weirdness and damaged outsiders; but perhaps because SIGHTSEERS originated as a television project by stars Alice Lowe and Steve Oram, it's his most accessible movie yet. That said, it still revolves around a thirty-something Midlands couple going on a caravan holiday around tedious parochial attractions, their hands quickly becoming stained with the blood of innocent public nuisances.

I've yet to sign up to Ben Wheatley's growing fan club, although I can see he has talent and appreciate his dedication to a very British milieu. I just find the characters he directs to be almost impossible to feel much sympathy for, and that's a particular problem in SIGHTSEERS because Chris (Oram) and Tina (Lowe) are so resolutely dull and dislikeable I didn't take much pleasure in their odd relationship.

More importantly for a film with this concept, I didn't feel any vicarious pleasure in seeing them kill people... because nobody ever 'had it coming'. A fat litterbug and a middle-class man upset about dog crap? It wasn't enough to have me secretly hoping to see Chris and Tina deal out some brutal justice. This is no FALLING DOWN, in other words. Neither is it the hybrid of HEAVENLY CREATURES and NUTS IN MAY that it could have been with better writing.

When deaths do come in SIGHTSEERS, at least they're unflinchingly portrayed and the repercussions feel raw and unpleasant. Wheatley, to his credit, doesn't find much pleasure in any of the murders, and the final scene is beautifully poetic and abrupt. There are things to like in this well-observed tale, for sure, but it just wasn't deep enough for me. Or even that funny.

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