Morvern Callar (2002) movie poster

(2002) dir. Lynne Ramsay
viewed: 12/16/03

I had been quite keen to see this film when it came through the theaters, but it’s short stay side-stepped my efforts and then I can’t remember what happened the day that it was playing at the Red Vic and was on the Monday Night Movie Club schedule, but that fell through, too. So, I had to await its DVD release, which I did rather eagerly.

I had really liked director Lynne Ramsay’s only previous feature, Ratcatcher (1999) and hearing positive things about Morvern Callar was quite enthused about seeing it.

Ramsay’s cinematic style developed from her experience as a still photographer, and her approach is very visual. The opening sequence of Morvern Callar has no dialogue as does much of the film. While there isn’t a massive amount of complex narrative to communicate, there is a heavy emphasis on mood and mental state, emotion and psyche, a lot of which focuses on the demeanor and visage of the titular character, played by the compelling Samantha Morton.

The film has been described by some to be quite like a “drug trip”, probably partially because the characters pop ecstacy and listen to ambient music and attend raves and the film is presented in a particularly subjective perspective, more stream-of-consciousness than not. Ratcatcher was so much of a downer, that I had serious concerns about what a bummer this film could be as it starts with the suicide of Morvern’s boyfriend on Christmas morning. Not exactly what most consider the “feel good holiday” film of the year material.

Ramsay’s work is constantly interesting and her visual style is aestheticly pleasing and unique. The closest parallels that I can think of would be Terence Malick or something more avant-garde than traditional feature film making. It’s art house fare, but genuine art house fare and good cinema, something far more stimulating and challenging than 99% of the films that generally run in such theaters. And while I wasn’t as overwhelmed by it as I had hoped to be, I still would highly recommend it to most, and I will await her next film as eagerly as I had awaited this one (and will hopefully see on of them on the big screen for a change.)