Morvern Callar

Morvern Callar

***

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

For a slow film, there is too much plot. Lynne Ramsay thrives on atmosphere. She is tactile and sensual with her camera. She wants you to feel the emptiness and futility of running away to happiness. The concept alone belongs in a pop song, not someone's life. If you run away, you have to come back and when you're back, it's like you've never been away.

Morvern Callar (Samantha Morton) lies on the lino of her Glasgow apartment beside the body of her dead boyfriend, with the lights of the Christmas tree flashing on and off. Already, she is rushing away into another place, no longer rational. The scene is set. Ramsay lingers over the minutiae of denial. Morvern stays for many days with the corpse spread across the floor, unable to tell anyone, or take responsibility for her pain.

Copy picture

When the plot kicks in, the film loses credibility. Is it possible to dig a grave on a rocky mountain top with a garden trowel? Can a man who is a writer and known in the pub disappear without anyone asking questions? Would a London publisher pay a six figure advance for a first novel when the author does not have an agent?

Morvern takes the money from the dead man's bank account and invites her best friend (Kathleen McDermott) to come on a package holiday to Spain, where the only entertainment is behaving like a prat and getting wasted on drugs and booze. Sex is thrown in as a bonus if the lads aren't too pissed to perform.

A mood of desperation descends, as the plot lurches from a one-night-stand in a soulless hotel room to escape into the Spanish countryside, "surrounded by donkeys and cactus." Still you are waiting to discover about this girl, what is in her mind, how she feels - really feels. Despite an authentic performance from Morton, it never happens. Morvern remains an enigma, as does the film.

Is this a search for love, or a cry from the wilderness? Ramsay is an original, who seems to be trapped on the dark side. Morvern has an adventure and returns as empty as she left.

"We should be clubbin'," her friend squeals, enthusiastically.

It makes the heart sink.

Reviewed on: 23 Apr 2002
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Morvern Callar packshot
After her boyfriend commits suicide, Samantha Morton runs away to Spain with her best pal.
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Director: Lynne Ramsay

Writer: Lynne Ramsay, Liana Dognini, based on the novel by Alan Warner

Starring: Samantha Morton, Kathleen McDermott, Raife Patrick Burchell, Carolyn Calder, Dan Cadan, Jim Wilson

Year: 2002

Runtime: 97 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK, Canada

Festivals:

EIFF 2002
CFF 2017

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