Tuesday, 13 October 2015

A Field in England

Smell the Movies
Smell the TV


Country of origin:UK
Director:Ben Wheatley
Genre:Surreal horror
Starring:, ,
IMDB link:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2375574/

Tagline:No tagline
Favourite line:"Sir, you merely suffer a disease in the private parts, occasioned by too much venereal sport."

One of the strangest films we’ve seen in quite some time.

The plot:
During a battle of the English Civil War, an alchemist's assistant named Whitehead flees from strict and overbearing Commander Trower. Whitehead meets Cutler and two army deserters, Jacob and Friend. Together they leave the battleground in search of an ale house. They encounter the Irishman O'Neill, a man whom Whitehead has been sent to apprehend for the theft of his master's works and literature. O'Neill quickly asserts authority over the group and tells them of a treasure hidden somewhere in a nearby field.
After using Whitehead to locate the treasure, O'Neill instructs Jacob and Friend to dig for it and he leaves Cutler to supervise. Jacob is under the influence of hallucinogens, and after several hours of digging he attacks Friend. Cutler attempts to intervene, and accidentally shoots Friend to death. Cutler is forced to finish digging by himself, whilst the others slip away unnoticed.
Cutler discovers that the "treasure" is just a skull. He angrily berates O'Neill who promptly kills him and then pursues Whitehead and Jacob, who scavenge Cutler's weapons and return to the army camp. As they are preparing for an attack, Friend appears alive and reveals their location to O'Neill. O'Neill shoots Jacob in the gut, but Jacob returns fire and ruins O'Neill's foot. Friend brandishes a pike and charges O'Neill, but O'Neill kills him with his last shot. Whitehead takes advantage of the situation to finally kill O'Neill.
Whitehead buries his friends in the treasure hole. Wearing O'Neill's clothes, he gathers his master's stolen belongings and returns to the hedgerow where he first met Cutler, Jacob and Friend, from which battle sounds are rising. After he wades through the hedge, he sees Friend, Jacob and himself standing together.
(synopsis taken from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Field_in_England)

Really hard to get a handle on this film, a sense of dreamlike weirdness permeating nearly every scene though, strangely, rather than imbuing it with a sense of wonder or magic, albeit of the darkest kind, instead it simply irritated.
None of the characters hit home.
The scenes played out too long.
The scripting felt artificial.
The decision to shoot in black and white, though initially interesting, felt utterly pointless.
And we love Ben Wheatley; our hopes were high.
After the quite remarkable Kill List and the blackly hilarious follow-up, Sightseers - contender for Smell the Cult’s film of the year 2012 - we were desperately hoping for three out of three (we don’t really count Down Terrace, as highly regarded as it is, simply because there is no horror element), but this one left us cold.
Here’s the good stuff:
Firstly, Michael Smiley, with his melodious Irish accent and rugged good looks, was as terrifying as ever playing The Alchemist. Truly, this guy could be asking you if he could buy you a stick of candy floss and you’d assume he was threatening to kill you.
He’s fabulous.
In everything.
Secondly, a scene with Reece Shearsmith attached to a rope, emerging from a tent, is simply one of the creepiest things we’ve ever seen caught on camera. Masterful and disturbing, it’s still haunting us each time we close our eyes.
But that’s about it.
The bad stuff:
The crudeness of the dialogue seems comedic at times, which really shatters the atmosphere.
The music is grating and intrusive, the medieval stylings presumably designed to add authenticity to the period setting instead served merely to annoy, the nursery-rhyme like tonality really horrid, in truth. Yeah, it adds to the weirdness of the piece, but at the expense of enjoyment.
There’s a real fascination with bodily functions and toilet humour, something sure to get our hackles up down here at Smell the Cult HQ, as it always seems a bit lowest common denominator and, frankly, Wheatley’s better than this, as are the rest of the luminaries of British comedy on display. Ultimately, if you have to rely on farting and shit jokes to add laughs, you got yourself a problem.
So, yeah, sorry people. Sorry Ben. Sorry Reece. Sorry Julian. Sorry Michael.
We really like everyone involved, just not the end result.
We couldn’t really see the point of it all.
Feel really deflated now.
Don’t feel like writing anymore.
Gonna go and have a cup of tea and a biscuit and consider things for a bit.
Bloody hell.

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