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Morvern Callar: A Brief Review

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Kurosawa Fan

Joined: 25 Feb 2004
Posts: 12
Location: Cleaning up the broken glass on Mulholland Dr.

PostPosted: 02.27.2004 4:39 am    Post subject: Morvern Callar: A Brief Review Reply with quote

If there's one thing you can say about Lynne Ramsey, it's that she knows how to use a camera. Her vision as a filmmaker is beyond compare. She is truly a master at her craft. That being said, I'll borrow a term from Zing that I'm sure he didn't coin but seems fitting for this film. It was an interesting failure.

First of all, Samantha Morton does a fantastic job as Morvern, a young girl who finds her boyfriend dead and then tries to put the event behind her. Now, that's not much of the story at all, but I'm avoiding spoilers the best I can, since the description I read was far too informative. Morton has mastered Morvern's apathy, and her performance is hypnotic.

Unfortunately the film just didn't hold my interest. It's path became far too ambiguous, and any direction or motivation seemed lost at times. This was in part because of its pacing, which was unbearably slow, and partially because the DVD offered no subtitles and with the thick accents I had a hard time understanding certain lines. Don't get me wrong, even if I had heard every word clear as a bell, my opinion probably wouldn't change.

With "Ratcatcher" the subplot of the story was the family and their relationship. This was what kept you interested, serving as the engaging and emotional subconscious of the film. It wasn't the main focus, but was certainly important and certainly necessary. I felt like I needed something along those lines with "Callar". The relationship with Morvern's friend just wasn't deep enough. I wanted something more.

What Ramsey does a great job with is her symbolism. Through much of the film Ramsey focuses on dirt and insects, reflecting the uncomfortable and disgusting decision Morvern makes in her life. Ramsey uses the bathtub, or bathing in general as a motif. We see Morvern bathing through much of the film, but as the dirt continues to appear, it's as if she can't rinse clean the mistake that she made.

During her travels, we see her torment as death seems to follow her wherever she goes. From chance meetings with hotel guests to parades in the streets, her past is always close behind, yet that doesn't stop her from running. It's interesting to see her slowly start to unravel as she treks the path of self-destruction.

It may seem from this review as though I enjoyed the film much more than my rating, but what I enjoyed was its ambition. It stands as an interesting allegory for the depth of human greed and self improvement. Ramsey has created a painting of a young woman's life that while beautiful to look at, was created on too large a canvas. I just came away feeling empty.
If my thought-dreams could be seen

They'd probably put my head in a guillotine

But it's alright Ma,

It's life and life only
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