NZFF: Sightseers

SARAH WATT
Last updated 10:10 31/07/2012
Sightseers

ABSURDLY HILARIOUS: Chris and Tina take off on a week's caravanning holiday in the low-budget British film Sightseers.

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Well. It's good to see where the BFI (which now dish out the Lotteries funding since the disestablishment of the UK Film Council) is doling out the money. 

For starters, there's this delightfully black comedy about a desperately ordinary couple who go on a road trip and commit serial murder - but only of the very worst people, of course. 

Natural Born Killers it mercifully ain't, and the tone is kept so light that we don't even have to get into issues of folie a deux such as struck other north-of-Englanders like Hyndley and Brady, half a century ago. Sightseers is good wholesome fun, just for larks.

Director Ben Wheatley debuted with last year's underground hit Kill List, which also involved a lot of death. This time he's left the writing to the film's stars, Alice Lowe and Steve Oram, who play the least glamourous, most authentic couple you've possibly ever seen on screen. 

Newly together, Chris and Tina take off on a week's caravanning holiday around heritage sites in the countryside, where they encounter obnoxious middle-class writers, obnoxious middle-class heritage boffins, obnoxious... hang on. There's perhaps a class issue going on here - but in any event, it's written so that the audience is nodding its head approvingly rather than baulking as the body count rises.

Peppered with laugh-out-loud dialogue and absurdly hilarious physical comedy, plus superb support from Tina's misanthropic mum back home, Sightseers is a glorious example of low-budget filmmaking done well, and a very encouraging tip of the hat to Britain's future industry. 

If it feels like it goes on a little long, the story is completely exonerated by a splendid finale.

* Sarah Watt is the Sunday Star Times film reviewer. Read her blog here.

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