Road movie’s lovebirds are fatally appealing

Litterbugs and loudmouths beware: Chris and Tina, the road-tripping lovebirds in the British comedy “Sightseers,” don't like your kind, and they may just bludgeon or flatten you between museum visits to express their dislike.

That's what happens, and little else, in this darkly off-kilter film. Yet writer-director Ben Wheatley and screenwriter-actors Steve Oram and Alice Lowe deliver enough oddball charm to make up for the thin plot, and the geeks and gore blend nicely.
Wheatley, whose credits include the murder-themed “Kill List” and “Down Terrace,” has made a murderous-couple road picture in the vein of “Bonnie and Clyde,” “Badlands” and “Honeymoon Killers,” but with fresh characters, a nerds-go-wild element and a British-style quirkiness.

Thirty-four-old unglamorous Tina (Lowe), who likes to knit, lives with her ill-tempered mother (Eileen Davies) in a house filled with photos of recently departed pooch Poppy. The dog's horrific demise, revealed in flashback, has devastated Tina.

Desperate for adventure, Tina embarks on a touristy trailer trip through northern England with new boyfriend Chris (Oram), a red-bearded wannabe writer and fellow eccentric.

Initially, things go sweetly. “Mint me,” says one to the other, requesting a candy before they kiss.

But on the tram, Chris can't stop seething over a littering tourist. In a not entirely innocent trailer accident, he runs over the culprit.

Feeling more exhilarated than horrified, the pent-up pair begin bumping off anyone who irks them — drunken partygoers, a privately schooled snob. They feel liberated and sexually turned on by the violence, but their relationship suffers when they disagree over who deserves to die.  

Lowe and Oram, who are improv comics, originally created this story for television, and at times it feels like a drawn-out sketch. And as the wickedly gory indie it aims to be, the film is too mild to shock.

But crank down expectations, and the movie becomes a drolly distinctive charmer streaked with blood and containing a class-related social theme or two.  

Unlike Bobcat Goldthwait’s similar “God Bless America,” Wheatley's movie doesn't let the outrageousness of the bloodshed upstage the emotional ingredient.

Lowe and Oram give multidimensional, in-character performances. When Oram's Chris oozes resentment when encountering people more educated and successful than himself, he's scary. His love for Tina, despite his twisted way of showing it, is touching.

REVIEW

Sightseers ???

  • With Alice Lowe, Steve Oram, Eileen Davies
  • Written by Alice Lowe, Steve Oram
  • Directed by Ben Wheatley
  • Not rated
  • Running time 1 hour, 29 minutes

artsBen WheatleyentertainmentMoviesSightseers

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