Sightseers (2012): A Comedy with No Manner


Everything starts like a "normal" drama. Carol (Eileen Davies) does not like Chris (Steve Oram) for some reasons. That's why, when her daughter Tina (Alice Lowe) decides to go on a romantic trip with him, Carol does not seem agree with the idea. But they have been a good couple and they have prepared for the trip, so they still execute the plan anyway.

They have a caravan with them, and everything goes fine and fun in the beginning. At least, until when they encounter a passenger litters on the train they are in. Chris is also an aspiring writer who is stuck in his writer's block, and he does not like litterbugs. Chris yells at the man, only to realize that he shows not a good attitude to Chris. So, when Chris and Tina accidentally run over him with their car and kill him, I assume it's half accident and half revenge.


"Sightseers" is fun in an immoral way. Ben Wheatley has a dazzling record of award-winning dark comedy films like "Kill List", and "Sightseers" is probably no different. The two leading actors are the film's script writers (plus another additional material from Amy Jump), so we have no argument about how they should portray the characters they created by themselves. A troubling couple, as you may call them, has given us a lecture of how humor and moral stand on two grounds so thin that you can't simply jump from one to another without cracking each other.

When at one time you laugh for something you know is not an appropriate thing to be laughed to, you have shut down your moral control to let go your humor excitement. Like when it is revealed how Poppy, Tina's dog, died, I feel weird. I laughed, but I had a terrible feeling inside. "Sightseers" is all about this dilemma, this moral-vs-fun collision. It's about how you lower your toleration to inappropriateness just to accept laughter.

Personally, I don't like that. At first, I presumed "Sightseers" chose a terrible way to simply give me an amusement. I mean, look, what can be funny from random people being killed by two lovers? Even songs are often (or always) put together to enliven the atmosphere when the killings are on, I can't hide myself from guilt of laughing at them. Let me ask you this: if your dog poops on a famous landmark in the city and you have nothing to clean it, and a random person comes and warns you to clean it however you can, will you just say sorry to him or will you get mad at him and feel like you want to screw him?


A well-mannered person probably gonna choose the first answer. But this is not about whether you are mannered or not, and the film itself is not a test to your manner. When I see through it, I understand that the film's main concern is to tease us, to tempt us from the heart. Its big idea is on how we could see it as if having fun and romantic date by murdering people is not such a big deal. Can we freely laugh at things the film shows us without feeling guilt due to the inner moral conflicts about the violence, injustices, and all?

And that also covers another prominent part of "Sightseers": the journey part. Chris and Tina bring us to visit several beautiful places around UK, and magically they are also managed to turn these places into killing spree. So the beauty is gone, and I am not interested to being amazed by the scenery of the landmarks anymore. Or, perhaps I am no longer interested to the journey itself. While it's true that the on-screen couple has done a wonderful writing for the film, I ended up thinking that Chris and Tina have developed into two people I couldn't understand, that "abnormal" might be the best label I could use to give me an obvious reason for all the crazy things they did.


So here is a comedy with no manner. All you have to do is to enjoy it beyond the blood and violence and all the rudeness, because you might never be in the same exact situation in your real life anyway. Thus, don't let your heart involved. I was practically not really into this genre, but I appreciate the good, structured writing and the original idea.


3.5 out of 5 stars

SIGHTSEERS | COUNTRY UK YEAR 2012 RATING n.a. GENRE Comedy RUNTIME 88 min CAST Alice Lowe, Steve Oram, Eileen Davies, Jonathan Aris, Monica Dolan WRITER Alice Lowe & Steve Oram (screenplay), Amy Jump (additional material) DIRECTOR Ben Wheatley MORE INFO

Akbar Saputra

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1 comment:

  1. Good review Akbar. The one-joke premise could only go on so long for me, that is until I just got annoyed of new and different variations of it. Then I had just about had it!