Debuting at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, British director Ben Wheatley’s Sighstseers is certainly a twist to your everyday romantic comedy. Sightseers will take you on a journey -via an Abbey Oxford Caravan- that will have you laughing, cringing, and probably doing both those things simultaneously. In its own genre described as “pitch-black comedy”, the film explores the boundaries of dark comedy and stood out at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
- Director: Ben Wheatley
- Screenwriter(s): Alice Lowe, Steve Oram
- Cinematographer: Laurie Rose
- Starring: Alice Lowe, Steve Oram
Chris is determined to take his sheltered girlfriend Tina under his wing and show her the world in his own notably unique way. They travel through the British Isles in Chris’ Abbey Oxford Caravan, but the nuisances of a road trip begin to take their tolls. Chris and Tina endure pre-booked caravan sites, litterers, the less than polite average citizen, and become a little less than tolerant as time goes on.
This is gory, silly, and absurd. It does a great job of juxtaposing the humdrum, middle class, suburban lifestyle with the violent impulses that the stress of traveling can induce in all of us (not that we act on ours). The characters are weird, but weird in a way that rings true, which makes it even more frightening. The result is a funny, cheeky exploration of kitsch tourist sites in the British Isles and a journey through the mind of an average English psychopath.
There are moments when Tina’s childish, high-pitched whining becomes (intentionally) irritating, and I could see how that could put some audience members off. Beyond that, my only other critique would be that as their trip becomes more beautiful and worthwhile, they become less pathetic. The jokes were funnier in the start of the movie, when their environment was drab and banal. Throwing someone off a misty crag is less funny than running over a fat guy with a caravan in a parking lot.
I recommend this film to anyone who enjoys dark comedy à la Serial Mom. Be prepared for some pretty heinous gore and some moderately irritating whining. But overall, the film is smart, funny, and gross.