Morvern Callar Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ July 11, 2012
Soooooo slooooooow....
Bill D 2007
Super Reviewer
March 27, 2010
"Morvern Callar," the second feature film from British writer/director Lynne Ramsay (after 1999's heart-breaking and unfairly overlooked "Ratcatcher"), is an enigmatic film with almost no dialogue. It tells the story of a twenty-something supermarket clerk (played by the always intriguing Samantha Morton) who skates along the surfaces of life, going from party to party. Ramsay's artistic goals are hard to pinpoint, but one of them here seems to be a fairly scathing indictment of 1990s British youth culture.

Morton's character, named Morvern Callar, is a girl from a lower-middle-class background living in a small town in Scotland. She has a pleasant demeanor but little to say. She only hangs around with people her age, whose favorite pastime is all-night raves where drugs and alcohol flow liberally. Let's just say that reading books is the last thing on the minds of these 21-year-olds. Their greatest happiness is a feeling of oblivion. Ramsay may not like ravers very much, but she certainly gets them. The depiction of aimless youth is better here than I've probably seen anywhere.

The problem is that it doesn't make for very compelling viewing. Boring people don't often make arresting protagonists. Ramsay also doesn't push her agenda with much intensity. She starts to seem as bored with the film as the characters are bored with life. I like the basic idea of the project very much, and there is a haunting quality to the filmmaking, just like there was with Ramsay's previous film, "Ratcatcher." But Ramsay got stalled in the story development, never fully baking her ideas. Thus "Callar" has a sketchy, fragmentary quality to it that isn't very compelling.

There is one story thread that tightens up substantially at the tail end of the film involving a spectacular attempt at plagiarism and a dead boyfriend. The film would have been stronger had Ramsay focused on this more. She seemed determined to drain the movie of as much story as possible, when there were several threads begging for development.

There's no mistaking, however, that Lynne Ramsay is a talented, original, and genuinely artistic filmmaker. Even a weaker piece of work from her has more value in it than the mountain of prefabricated entertainment product being churned out in America. Cinephiles the world over owe it to themselves to cross paths with Ramsay's work. I'm very disappointed that she's had trouble getting a third film together. I wait with bated breath for her return to filmmaking!
Super Reviewer
December 1, 2008
strange film but i liked it. samantha morton is always worth watching. more modern than ratcatcher but almost as stunning to look at. very nice soundtrack too.
Super Reviewer
½ November 25, 2008
Interesting movie...not entirely successful, but compelling in its own bizarre way. Lynne Ramsay has a hell of a good eye behind the camera and her music selections are superb. For someone with such a solid sense of style, and an unintrusive way of splicing it into a narrative, Ramsay hasn't exactly seen much work. Life sucks for female directors.

My big problem with Morvern Callar is kind of my own - I have a huge problem comprehending Scottish accents and could hardly understand what any of the actors were saying. I watched the movie on Netflix, so subtitles weren't an option, and turning it up didn't help much. It's a testament to the movie's striking physicality that I took as much away from it as I did, so maybe it's actually an advantage in the long run. Also, some people may find the film ponderous and navel-gazing; it is inaccessible, yes, but never lost in itself. You could write an essay on what the movie tells you (and doesn't tell you) about Morvern. In this regard, the movie owes a lot to Samantha Morton, who seamlessly nails an incredibly tricky role. For me, her bizarre behavior didn't raise any question marks, but just acted as a reminder about how confusing it is to be young, poor and unhappy.

Morvern Callar demands a lot of patience and attention, and the returns are not really for everyone. I recommend it, but hesitantly. If you don't care to watch the film, at least get the soundtrack. Boards of Canada, Aphex Twin, The Velvet Underground...good stuff right thurr.
Super Reviewer
August 15, 2007
Wonderfully composed study of grief with a gutsy performance by Morton backed up by beautiful imagery and sound.
Super Reviewer
April 4, 2012
I really liked watching this film, Lynne Ramsey is a great film-maker. Unfortunately, half the time watching this film I spent admiring the direction rather than the narrative.
Super Reviewer
December 31, 2007
Amazing movie. It has definitely one of the best soundtracks ever and Samantha Morton gives such a calm yet layered performance, she's truly haunting; one viewing is clearly not enough to fully understand all of her character.
Super Reviewer
February 28, 2008
I was pleasantly surprised by this. Great acting throughout and nicely shot. Love the soundtrack too!
August 17, 2014
An amazing performance by Samantha Morton. Unfortunately her character is very ambiguous, and we never really learn of her motivations, so watching this movie is a frustrating experience. Perhaps it's another example of a book that didn't translate well into a movie.
½ May 27, 2011
This drama wanders around and around and ends in a stunningly tragic final act, but takes far too long getting there. It lost my interest long before the payoff. I remain unimpressed with Samantha Morton.
½ September 23, 2008
Mix tapes from the dead and stolen novels, mean ambigious beautifully photographed crowded dance halls and lonely deserts.

After Morvern's boyfreind kills himself on Christmas Day, he leaves a note saying "don't try to understand, be strong, pay ...(read more) for my funeral with my account and send my book to the publishers", and instead she cuts up his corpse burries him(after several days of him on the kitchen floor), signs her name to his book, and uses the advance to go on a trip to Spain to with her best freind, who she later ditches in the desert.

Though the journey sounds thrilling and surreal, and it many of its finest moments it is, it's a also haunted one, beautifully photographed and excellently aurally composed. It is as much and visual and tonal expression of isolation as it is a feast for the senses.

There's very little dialogue and somewhat thick scottish accents are a little hard to hear without subtitles, in many scenes though what is audible is often fighting over the roar of crowds or the roar of music. Not unike Callar herself, one small voice, among many, being at best, partially heard, but talking on anyway.

Samantha Morton (the main pre-cog in Minority Report) is hypnotic and commanding, as is the movie in general. One of the best Christmas films in years!
February 10, 2008
Strange and whismical, saturated and heavy, light and hopeful, all manner of ironic ingredients go into the pot to form this QUITE enjoyable film. A trial of fire that warms the hands, if you will.
½ January 13, 2007
u should only watch it to see how bad it is. its sooooooo long. nobody is interesting. if ur desperate theres a sex scene but ats about it.
May 28, 2015
Some movies are so infused with life, that it's impossible not to undermine life itself when talking about it. Lynne Ramsey is a visual poet, and a very, very talented one at that. She shines like, I don't know, things that shine without knowing that they're radiant. Like a diamond. Her film here, the first but not that last one that I'll be watching, is tremendous and breathtaking. Gorgeous but simple. Entertaining but not separate from life. It's silly to talk about plot, it's not really the point. Just watch it if you can, and make sure you have subtitles!! Scottish people...
½ October 16, 2007
Morvern Callar not only attempts to reveal an interior life, usually the province of novels, but also focuses on the interior life of a woman who refuses to open up to anyone.
November 25, 2013
It is Christmas day and young woman named Morvern Callar(Samantha Morton) has just discovered the body of her boyfriend, an artist, who has chosen the festive holidays to commit suicide. On his computer she finds an eerily matter-of-fact suicide note with instructions to submit his manuscript to a list of publishers. Morvern weeps silently and privately over her boyfriend. She delays telling anyone about the death, not even her best friend Lanna(Kathleen McDermott). While a corpse lies frozen on the floor Morvern continues with some semblance of a normal routine: she goes to work, goes to parties, gets drunk etc. Several days go on like this. Is she afraid to acknowledge his death, afraid to let him go? But then Morvern begins to act in a very strange and unpredictable manner. Firstly she disposes of her boyfriend's body by cutting him up and burying him in the countryside. She then erases his name from his novel, replaces it with her own and takes off to Almeria, Spain, where she intends to sell it to a publisher as her own work.

The darkly absurd early image of Christmas tree lights flickering on a still corpse gives us a certain clue as to what kind of movie this will be. It's a devastating opening that succeeds in grabbing the viewer's attention. But what keeps us interested is the peculiar way in which Movern goes about dealing with the death of her boyfriend. You may find yourself shocked not only by the audacity, but more so by the coldness of Morvern's actions. Why does she put her own name on that manuscript? Morvern certainly has no interest in the romance of being an artist. Her reasons for doing such a thing are purely mercenary. Her actions also provoke interesting questions about the nature of her relationship to this man.

This is quite a strange movie about a rather strange woman with a very strange name. Samantha Morton gives an incredible performance, perfectly conveying the enigma that is Morvern Caller. She says little but has a menacing air about her. We don't know what mental activity goes on behind her big eyes and it's unsettling to guess at. At times, as in the beginning of the movie, she seems completely vulnerable and terrified of what the future holds in store for her. More often she appears spookily detached and supremely indifferent to the world around her. She is completely inexplicable and contradictory, and that is what makes her such a fascinating character to observe. It doesn't surprise me that Woody Allen chose Samantha Morton to portray a mute lady in Sweet and Lowdown, as I can't think of any other performer who can express so much without uttering a single word. This is the perfect role to display her talents and it's as good a performance I've ever seen from any actor or actress in recent years.

This is the second movie of Lynne Ramsey, who later went on to direct the acclaimed We Need to Talk about Kevin. She's a very talented director and here she successfully creates an atmosphere of dread and foreboding. She also manages to capture a general feeling of nausea, postponement and depression, particular in the early scenes. She has a strong visual flair and an eye for stark, grotesque imagery. I'm looking forward to seeing more of her work.
½ August 28, 2013
Well made. Specially the parts where Morvern just feels and perceives and experiences the world. Makes slight changes int he characterization of Morvern which, I guess, is the result of the change of time.
May 11, 2013
Confusing and catching. Loved it.
July 26, 2009
Superb with a great soundtrack on Warp Records.
November 28, 2012
Definitivamente mi tipo de pelicula....muy recomendable
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