Tuesday, 12 November 2013

A Field in England

A Field in England – Ben Wheatley – With Down TerraceKill List and Sightseers, Ben Wheately has competently emerged as one of the most interesting, new British directors. A Field in England definitely keeps Wheatley’s independent trajectory intact…a low budget, black and white, English Civil War story that focuses on hallucinogenic mushrooms, cryptic rituals and minimal narrative, is hardly going to allow him to melt into yawning avenues of the predictable. Unfolding in the limitations of one field, the film feels as sparse as its setting with an uneasy atmosphere that at times recalls the bare human struggles of Beckett. Working within budget constraints, Wheatley constructs some beautifully striking and strangely disturbing imagery, the best moments of which are simply exercising slow motion, a strange rope and the possessed grimace of Reece Shearsmith (who has acted so brilliantly in the macabre League of Gentleman and Psychoville). I felt the film was at its most inspired when inventively embracing its more experimental leanings: the arresting slow motion, the kaleidoscopic shroom trip and the singing tableaux vivants that acted as strange pagan interludes – all being notable examples. I felt when the film seemed to fall short was in its climax, descending into more recognizable fits of violence and action (recalling the head splattering in Wheatley’s other films, while powerful and integral to other contexts – here the violence felt like a lazy shortcut to achieving cinematic resolution – which the film didn’t need). 7/10

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