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Movern Callar (Unrated)
Company Pictures
Official Site
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Producers: George Faber, Charles Pattinson, Robyn Slovo
Written by: Liana Dognini and Lynne Ramsay; novel by Alan Warner
Cast: Samantha Morton, Kathleen McDermott, Raife Patrick Burchelle, Dan Cadan, Carolyn Clader, Jim Wilson, Dolly Wells

Rating: out of 5

Morvern Callar is a bizarre film. At times deeply sad, at times profoundly disturbing but always highly original in its story, it is sure to polarize audiences. Some will throw around the "P" word—pretentious—while others will love this film in all its strange glory. But in the end this is a good film and it deserves to be seen.

Writer/director Lynne Ramsey, whose first film Ratcatcher won several awards back in 2000, leads us into the world of a young Scottish woman, Morvern Callar (Morton). She wakes up on Christmas to find her boyfriend has committed suicide and left her his completed novel, which he asks her to send to publishers. Apparently in shock, much time goes by before we hear Morvern utter her first words in the picture, but soon we realize that this is the way she lives. She is a very introspective woman who seems to be in a perpetual state of contemplation, never doing anything quickly.

Leaving the body in her house, Morvern goes out and meets her best friend, Lanna (McDermott) and attempts to get her mind off the situation at home. They go to a rave, but she can find no answers here. Morvern must come to terms with herself out in the larger world.

This film has a wonderful score, and is well acted by all the supporting cast members, especially McDermott, who helps to ground the slightly off-kilter events with a wonderfully simple realism. The direction is assured and the script well written, but in a film of this nature it all comes down to the leading actress’s performance. Luckily here we have Samantha Morton, who was so wonderful in Woody Allen's Sweet And Lowdown, and the major reason that this film succeeds is that she delivers one of the best physical performances in many years. Morvern does not speak more than a handful of lines in this film, and there’s no narrator, but just watch her face. That beautifully expressive face tells you everything you could possibly need to know about Morvern Callar. It’s all there, in her eyes, on her face, the mysteries of this film are all solved in the wonderfully expressive silent moments.

As a caveat, if you don't enjoy films without plots, don’t see this movie. Morvern Callar begins in the midst of its story and ends with no real resolution. I believe that this is done in an effort to be as realistic as possible, because we are seeing simply this slice of Morvern’s life. She’s much too complicated to have all her story told in less than two hours. It leaves you asking questions, but they are the things you can never know about another person's life.

That’s not to say the film is without its share of faults. While it is an examination of a very unusual person, at times the film veers for a few moments into a little too much oddness, though it is quickly set back on track. It is also a slow-paced examination of a life, so check your MTV attention span at the door.

This description does little justice to the piece of art that Lynne Ramsey and company have put up on the screen. To see this film is to have a unique experience at the movies, and it will stay with you for some time.

—Jesse Trussell


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