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Critics reviews
Sightseers
Ben Wheatley United Kingdom, 2012
As the first of Wheatley’s films to come from another source, “Sightseers” complicates the question of authorship, but the director’s stylistic stamp is evident from the opening scenes, which are very close in look and feel to Down Terrace.
May 10, 2017
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Anyone expecting a murder-spree pic atmospherically similar to director Ben Wheatley’s Kill List will be surprised—perhaps pleasantly. Sightseers is a jet-black comedy that understands exactly how absurdist it is…
May 11, 2013
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Oram and Lowe have opted to use the grammar of a sitcom, gambling that the central relationship alone is sufficient to carry the film, rather than seeking to dramatize everything around them (such as the inevitable manhunt that would have ensued). The consistency and depth of the characterizations is what amortizes that decision, and moreover stops Sightseers from turning into a one-joke film.
May 10, 2013
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There’s a shape to the madness, and a strangely keen insight into early relationships.
May 09, 2013
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There’s a difference between the sinister comedy of those films and the outright hatefulness that throws Sightseers so far off balance… It may be the satirist’s credo to spare no one, but in Sightseers, no one is spared Wheatley’s smug superiority.
May 09, 2013
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The relentless contrast of banality with horror seems to be Wheatley’s signature move, and like his Kill List (2011), Sightseers can claim a sizable fan base, especially in its native U.K. But the humor here, ironically, doesn’t travel well.
May 09, 2013
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Working from a script by Ms. Lowe and Mr. Oram, Mr. Wheatley continues in the same bludgeoning, amusingly if dubiously deadpan fashion for what soon feels like an overextended joke… Here, evil isn’t simply banal, it’s also associated with class-coded bad taste, of a primitivism and vulgarity that are interchangeable with murder and are only funny if you think about it as little as the characters do.
May 09, 2013
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The past is all around Tina and Chris, the greatness of England’s history shimmers behind every action. They cannot access the power inherent in such a history, it is denied them. Chris begins to seem more and more trapped in the abyss between his ideals and his reality, and Tina starts to seem more and more released from the ties that bind. The ending, when it comes, is perfect. Of course it would end this way.
May 08, 2013
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Doing his countrymates proud, Brighton-based Ben Wheatley pushes all sorts of inappropriate buttons in Sightseers, a sick gag of a film that’s bound to scar only the irony-challenged. (If that happens to be you, stick with Wheatley’s prior outing, 2011’s Kill List, a top-notch horror film that’s sober as a morgue.)
May 07, 2013
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The key to Wheatley’s aesthetic lies in the utter moral bankruptcy of all his characters. The director uses the ease with which acts of violence are employed to explore the darkness within the shriveled hearts of prickly oddballs, who he further uses to poke fun at the fastidious stodginess of English society. A stylistic jack of all trades, he swerves wildly between genres here once again, and his satire is equally expansive in its modes…
May 07, 2013
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Sightseers is a safety valve, a comic venting of frustration on behalf of anyone who has fleetingly imagined killing someone annoying. The film doesn’t glorify murder or stain the English countryside, though it’s more likely to elicit reluctant smiles of recognition than belly laughs.
May 02, 2013
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Sightseers for its part is far less ambitious, and in its own way it’s a “better” film than Kill List if only because it aims lower and hits. Posters proudly trumpet the fact that the film is executive produced by Edgar Wright, which both helps to mitigate Sightseers’ lack of marquee talent and give viewers a heads-up that the new film is a less ambiguous splatter-comedy in the Shaun of the Dead /Severance vein.
March 01, 2013
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There are plenty of memorably black-comic killings (one brain-bashing sequence is set to Donovan’s “Season of the Witch”). But at heart this is an affectingly satirical portrait of two people in deeply tainted love. Movie geeks of all stripes can surely relate.
February 11, 2013
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Not only is Sightseers a relishable achievement for its devisers, Lowe and Oram, but it enhances Wheatley’s reputation as currently the most refreshingly offbeat and unpredictable director of British crime movies.
November 30, 2012
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In a way, subverting his audiences expectations—of him as a filmmaker as much as of this particular film itself—is part of the point of making Sightseers so different in mood and style, and its most lasting achievement may in fact prove to be how capably it displays Wheatley’s stylistic and thematic range.
September 11, 2012
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Nobody fucks with you like Wheatley, who has a showman’s instinct for audience manipulation in the best sense. Comedy staged to feel as if it’s in the moment conceals its inner workings and painstaking plans: Sightseers straddles the precipice of chaos, with Wheatley firmly in control of the reins.
September 01, 2012
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Remember how everyone described Wheatley’s 2009 debut Down Terrace as “Mike Leigh does The Sopranos”? This is what Leigh’s version of Natural Born Killers might have looked like, and once again, Wheatley blends horror, black comedy, working-class realism, actor improvisations and social satire into an oddball meditation on l’amour fou, suburban English serial-killer style.
May 25, 2012
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