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Now showing @ Cornerhouse… Reviewed: Sightseers

By John Paul Shammas

This week at Cornerhouse, Ben Wheatley’s superb black comedy ‘Sightseers’ hits the screens.

After shocking the world with his brooding kitchen-sink horror Kill List last year, director Ben Wheatley returns with this blacker-than-black comedy Sightseers.

From the off, it’s quite clear that Chris and Tina, two thirty-somethings who have only recently met, are both a little unhinged.

They set off on a caravanning holiday which, naturally in Wheatley’s world, turns into a killing spree as their repressed anxieties boil to the surface.

Behind the cringeworthy gags that occupy Tina and Chris’ visits to a series of mundane sights such as The Tram Museum, there is something quite dark at work here.

It becomes apparent to the couple that they might not know each other quite as well as they first thought, and Sightseers quickly transforms into a thoroughly engaging and intense realist-odyssey of mutual self-discovery.

Whilst Sightseers initially seems like a departure from Wheatley’s Kill List, as it unravels we see the development of these two incredibly damaged holiday makers serve to demonstrate the Wheatley’s understanding and fascination with repressed, broken people.

Its premise might initially make is seem like Sightseers is an attempt to recreate the wondrous Withnail & I, but that’s not the case. 

Like Kill List, Wheatley’s hand is so tangible in each scene that he prevents his films from being confined by genre or audience expectations.

Rather, he purposely takes us right out of our comfort zones, challenging and, ultimately charming us in his own way.

Sightseers is a precious film which serves to solidify Wheatley’s status as a prominent voice in British cinema.

The Cornerhouse is also screening The Master and Alps throughout the week alongside Sightseers. For film schedules and everything else Cornerhouse has to offer, visit www.cornerhouse.org

Picture courtesy of StudioCanal UK via YouTube, with thanks.

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