Suicidal Scots

Everyone deals with grief in his or her own way. Some people cry, others simply block it out, and still others leave the corpse on the floor for days, steal the deceased’s manuscript and vacation in Spain. To each their own.

When we first meet Morvern Callar (Samantha Morton), she is lying on the floor of her flat, caressing her boyfriend’s corpse. Having committed suicide, his body, a note and a completed manuscript are the only things he has left behind. So, Morvern goes out for a night on the town with her best friend Lanna.

After a night of partying, the two stumble home to their lives at the local supermarket. From their home, they vacation in Spain, using money left by Morvern’s nameless boyfriend for his funeral. Sex, drugs and suicide, Morvern Callar has all the ingredients of a grunge band’s back-story.

It’s important to bear in mind, however, that this is an art house film and there’s just no other way to understand it without this context.

Based on the Alan Warner novel of the same name, Morvern Callar is unapologetic in its deliberate pace with shots like the opening view of Morvern and her boyfriend on the floor lasting for minutes without ambient music or even the faintest dialogue. Fluorescent, high contrast lighting in filthy spaces abounds and the dialogue is minimal–though, with thick Scottish accents, much of it nearly requires subtitles. Like Morvern, the film proceeds with a detached sense of reality, leaving the audience in shock as events progress seemingly without reason. Our attention rests on a stoned girl as she leans against the wall and then, suddenly it’s redirected to pulsing strobe lights in the recklT├ąd├┐dance clubs of Ibiza.

What is this film’s story? It doesn’t seem to have one. What have we learned by the end? Apparently, nothing. If these worry you, then Morvern Callar certainly isn’t for you.

What director Lynne Ramsay has ultimately created is a portrait that lasts for two hours, exploring a woman who is dealing with life after death. It’s slow, it’s quiet and it might leave you wanting a scalding shower afterwards.

Then again, that might just be what you’re looking for. It does, after all, have several bathing scenes spliced in between the surrealism and that makes for compelling drama any day.

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