Tuesday, October 13, 2015

'Sightseers': Two awkward types find each other

Tina and Chris (Alice Lowe, Steve Oram) in the brilliant British black comedy. BEN WHEATLEY
Tina and Chris (Alice Lowe, Steve Oram) in the brilliant British black comedy. BEN WHEATLEY
About the movie
Comedy; Horror
MPAA rating:
Running time:
Release date:
Kenneth Hadley; Monica Dolan; Steve Oram; Jonathan Aris; Eileen Davies; Alice Lowe
Directed by:
Ben Wheatley
On the web:
Sightseers Official Site

Every couple make compromises: From the dinner menu to the number of children they'll have, love is about negotiation.

Chris and Tina, the adorable protagonists of the British black comedy Sightseers, are no different: He likes to kill people, she's OK with it as long as it doesn't ruin their vacation.

A brilliant, deliciously wicked, and thoroughly enjoyable road film set in the gorgeous upland vistas of the Peak District in northern England, Sightseers is about an average thirtysomething couple from average (read: dull) middle-class homes who go on a deadly holiday with their smart new camper caravan.

It's Bonnie and Clyde by way of EastEnders and The League of Gentlemen.

Sightseers is the third feature from visionary director Ben Wheatley, the gnarly mind behind crime family thriller Down Terrace and the mordant, witty hit-man saga Kill List, an ingenious cross between Taxi Driver and The Wicker Man that stunned critics in 2011.

Less gory and quite romantic despite the killing, Sightseers stars Steve Oram and Alice Lowe as Chris and Tina, a pair of awkward, nerdy types who were the butt of jokes at school.

Now they've finally found each other and something akin to happiness.

Tina, a dog whisperer who still lives at home with her overbearing mom, is in mourning a year after the death of her adorable white terrier who impaled himself on one of her knitting needles. (The poor pooch's death scene alone is worth the price of admission.)

Yep, Tina is an avid knitter and to prepare for her "erotic odyssey" with Chris - which will include visits to a tram museum and a tour of a pencil museum and factory - she has knitted a Victoria's Secret-inspired pink wool bra and panties set.

Chris is a wannabe writer waiting for inspiration. It comes - and how! - when Tina suggests he write about his feelings when he murders people. He kills people who annoy him - thick-neck bullies or private school-educated upper-class toffs.

Oram and Lowe cowrote the screenplay and spent years developing their characters. It shows: They're in perfect sync with a chemistry that would shame any Hollywood A-list couple.

Their story is set against a remarkably vibrant countryside captured with genuine lyricism by Wheatley's camera.

It almost feels natural, even welcome, that the body count should grow as the couple drive deeper into the heart of England and burrow ever deeper in each other's souls.


Sightseers *** (out of four stars)

Directed by Ben Wheatley. With Alice Lowe, Steve Oram, Eileen Davies, Jonathan Aris, Monica Dolan. Distributed by IFC Films.

Running time: 1 hour, 28 mins.

Parent's guide: Not rated (profanity, sexual situations, murder)

Playing at: Ritz at the Bourse

Contact Tirdad Derakhshani at 215-854-2736 or tirdad@phillynews.com.

Inquirer Staff Writer
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