Narrative takes a backseat to a sometimes frustrating, sometimes fascinating study of Samantha Morton’s face in Morvern Callar, a film that strives so hard to be “poetic” and “lyrical” that you can practically see the sweat oozing from the corners of the screen. In what little story there is, a young woman awakes on Christmas morning to find that her boyfriend, an aspiring novelist, has committed suicide in the living room right next to the tree. But instead of allowing logic to lead her to a prescribed regiment of mourning in the small Scottish seaport where she lives, she hides the truth from her friends, sends his novel off to a publisher with her name attached, and takes off for Spain with her one close friend in tow. Morvern Callar is comprised almost entirely of Morton’s quiet, quasi-disaffected performance—she goes through so many wordless stretches that it occasionally feels like we’ve timewarped back to Sweet and Lowdown—and the actress is in fine form, relaying her character’s lingering detachment from the world with a tenderness that has been squashed in her recent forays into Hollywood territory. But the real star of the movie is Lynne Ramsay, the English director who won a good deal of critical support with her debut feature Ratcatcher. Morvern Callar is elliptically paced and exasperatingly oblique at times, but the camera moves with such sensual, intoxicating grace that you’re transfixed even when you’re unsure as to what exactly is going on. Alwin Kuchler’s photography alternates between rich colors and grainy desolation, and pulling the viewer even deeper into Morvern Callar‘s haunting, bottomless dreamscapes as the movie absorbs Morton’s every expression. If possible, catch it before Todd Louiso’s Love Liza, another film that immerses itself so profoundly within its main character’s psyche that you’re not sure if you’re amazed or repulsed. Both films might be about characters running from their own feelings, but few films this year have been as resolute in their emotional nakedness.
- Lynne Ramsay
- Lynne Ramsay, Liana Dognini
- Samantha Morton, Kathleen McDermott, Raife Patrick Burchell, Jim Wilson
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