MIFF 2013 – A Field in England (2013)


Director: Ben Wheatley
Starring: Michael Smiley, Reece Shearsmith, Julian Barratt, Peter Ferdinando, Richard Glover, Ryan Pope, Sara Dee

Staggering out of a battle in the English Civil War, nervous English Royalist Whitehead (Reece Shearsmith) meets up with two soldiers who are off to find the nearest alehouse. Unfortunately they also meet up with Cutler (Ryan Pope) and his master O’Neil (Michael Smiley) who presses them into service to find a treasure in a remote field.

It turns out that Whitehead and O’Neil have some connection having worked for the same master, and Whitehead was charged with finding an arresting O’Neil due to a theft of valuable papers. As Whitehead is mainly an expert on books and lacework, you can probably guess how well that turns out. The tent scene is horrific even though you do not see anything.

This movie is interesting rather than a stand-out in any area, it definitely suffered as I had just seen a film called the Congress just before it. There is a lot of dialogue in this movie and it could work as a stage play with a few minor adjustments.

I cannot fault the performances, having a small cast means you get to know a lot more about each of the characters. The movie manages to stand on its own with just the strength of the performances and creates a real sense of menace from the situation they find themselves in.

The mushrooms do come into effect near the end of the film, but I won’t spoil what happens. It is a strange sequence and makes good use of the scenes that came before it in a recap of the story.

I am not sure why the movie was shot in black and white apart from making it look like an old teleplay. Removing colour from the things you have to worry about also makes you focus in on the characters, but it is a lot harder to make things look the right way when you do not have colour to work with.

This film has screened on TV in the UK already and that does seem like a media it is suited for as well as online and home screening. I am not sure if it will get a wide release in cinemas, but that matters less these days.

You have to be in the right mood to watch this and there is some brutal parts to the movie, the person I watched it with was not too impressed, but I thought it went well.

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