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Thursday 28 March 2013, 09:08

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

Sightseers, one of my favourite films of last year, is just out on DVD. This weird tale about caravanning and killing shares a lot with Nuts In May, Mike Leigh's hilarious camping comedy from the 70s - what a great double bill...

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Sightseers review

Bleak moments with Mike Leigh


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    Comment number 1.

    I watched Sightseers last night for the first time. What a great film it is too.

    *What a shame it is that I will have to watch it again this weekend along with Nuts In May.


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    Comment number 2.

    I was introduced to the wonderful 'Nuts in May' by the band Pop Will Eat Itself, it was essential viewing on the tour bus, constantly being quoted, and have grown to love it more as the years have gone by.
    In the same vein was the brilliant BBC sitcom 'The Great Outdoors' with Ruth Jones and Mark Heap.

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    Comment number 3.

    Like 'em both, but I'll skip viewing 'em together. Being in the New Forest, we live it!

    While I enjoyed Sightseers, I don't see it as a comedy, and I felt the marketing and trailer was misleading. Granted it was based on Oram and Lowe's comedy characters that happened to be killers, but by taking them out of the comedy sketch milieu and plonking them into reality, they are altered into two troubled people whose lunacy vibrates on increasingly different frequencies. In your typical black murder comedy such as Kind Hearts and Coronets, Little Shop of Horrors, Heathers, or even Shock to The System, the victims are treated in a satirical way to help justify their deaths as twisted vengeance. Sightseers marketing tries to sell it as just that, but it is a different more complex animal. In Sightseers, some of the victims have irritating qualities, but by grounding them in a Nuts In May reality, that edge is blunted, and as things progress it becomes apparent that its not about that. What emerges is a character study with beautifully observed humour, and some twists of the knives.

    Ben Wheatley deserves praise for pulling off this balancing act, by letting it be brutally realistic rather than blithely satirical, it's worthily disturbing for it. While I'm not sure why he's sniffy about comparisons to Nuts in May, but as I've working on a novel which includes a tourist killer, I'd be annoyed by comparisons with Sightseers (should I ever get it published).

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    Comment number 4.

    Well done for mentioning Shock to the System ^^^ fellow Brian (but from the New Forest)- It has not been seen by enough people. It's one of Caine's best films imo. Constantly quoted by my former flatmates and I to this day! It's also (like Sightseers) darkly funny.

    Still to see Nuts in May, going to rent today.

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    Comment number 5.

    I've had Nuts In May in my watch list on Amazon for ages. Thing is you can only pick it up as part of a Mike Leigh box set and it's getting on for £40.
    A real shame as if it was available on it's own I can imagine it'd have be fairly popular at the cinema release and DVD release of Sightseers.

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    Comment number 6.

    I will be watching Sightseers, been meaning to for a while (not Nuts In May, as I can't stand Mike Leigh's middle-classes), but I don't get this fascination with Kill List. I remember MK telling us about the fellow critic who felt he had to leave the cinema because of its brooding terror and claustrophobia. That was the reason I bought Kill List blind on Blu-ray, and I was really disappointed by it - not least by its baffling climax. What brooding terror? It was a convoluted mess, taken out of reality by the constant fantasy. Try watching the calm build-up in a beheading video. That's brooding terror! I just hope Wheatley's got it right this time with Sightseers, and interestingly his name isn't on the screenplay.

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    Comment number 7.

    Back when I was about 15 our Tutor at school would put on Nuts in May in 10 minute instalments between registration and first lesson, and what a brilliant man he was because Nuts in May remains one of my favourite films of all time.

    I am looking forward to watching Sightseers although I can't help but feel that I'll be disappointed that it's not "Pratt, K Pratt" orchestrating the killings.

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    Comment number 8.

    Just to echo what Brian- The New Forest said, i always thought Sightseers was less about a couple going mad whilst on holiday, but two rather childish people unable function once their relationship turns sexual and giving vent to petty jealousy and resentment in the only way they can through violence. I think with repeat viewings this film will become less funny and more sinister as the flaws in their personalities become more apparent.

    The 'Doc' keeps banging on about Kill List, but for my money Down Terrace is the quintessential Ben Wheatly film. It has the director's unique sense of humour and view of the world stamped all over it, and best illustrates his approach to film making. People criticize Kill List for the left turn taken at the end, but on repeat viewings it makes more sense as you see indicators dotted through out the film.

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    Comment number 9.

    Harry, you're indeed right about the ending, which I pretty much 'got' first time round. But after a second viewing, having registered all the 'clues' and hoping for a deeper explanation, I came to the conclusion Kill List is much ado about nothing. In fact, after hearing Ben Wheatley's commentary, I'm not even sure he knows what's going on, hence my apathy to it.

    Watching Sightseers tonight.

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

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    Comment number 11.

    Okay, I've just watched Sightseers and it's superb. Don't bother asking me about the other one, as I'd rather scrape my nuts in hay than watch Nuts In May, but that's another story.

    Though it has its funny moments (and the murders are hilarious), it's not a comedy, it's a tragic love story about repression, dysfunctionality and maybe sexual awakening. There's a great soundtrack, a sweepingly-fast final act, which I didn't expect (Ben Wheatley will surely become one of the great British directors), has a nice little Clockwork Orange homage at the viaduct, and was a much better finished piece than Kill List. Really impressed, and I can't wait for A Field In England.

    Btw, who moved the Ribblehead Viaduct into the mountains of the Lake District? Whoever it was, well done for putting it back, as last week it was where it should be, in the Yorkshire Dales, when I passed it on my way up a snowy Whernside.

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    Comment number 12.

    "Kill List" is a mess and " Sightseers is a one joke film - Come on Mark you can do much better than keep plugging this low grade British trash -

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    Comment number 13.

    It's a crime that Sightseers didn't get a better cinema release. Why is it that our cinemas are chock full of films that no one is going to (I went to see Mama a week after release and the cinema was empty, 20 people at best) and yet perfectly decent films can;t get a look-in. I know distribution has been dealt with before on this blog but things like this really get my goat!

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    Comment number 14.

    I've only seen Nuts in May once when my mum showed it to me but I absolutely loved it, and have been banging on about it to a friend who's been working through Mike Leigh's stuff (I haven't actually seen much, personally). Obviously this has gotten me very interested in both Sightseers AND watching Nut in May again.

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    Comment number 15.

    Nuts in May should definitely be film club one day, BBC4 show it every now and then. Its possibly my most watched film ever, parents showed it to me as a kid and i was obsessed with it.
    Wanted to see Sightseers at the cinemas but it was sadly only on for the one week and I couldnt get to it. Loved Kill List and Down Terrace so i will defo be buying it.
    And while were on the subject of peculiar British cinema, RIP Richard Griffiths, I shall be raising a small rhesus negative bloody mary in your honour sir.

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    Comment number 16.

    Well I tracked down a copy of Sightseers and I couldn't get into it.

    I like black comedy films esspecially American Psycho and Heathers etc but Sightseers was American Psycho without the humour for me, honestly don't get why so many people are raving about it.

    I honestly just felt sick to my stomach watching this, and before the doctors video I actually thought to myself "I think this is the worse British film I have seen since Kill List" and it was the same director!

    Still can't believe Kill List's diabolical ending mind.

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    Comment number 17.

    Sightseers is a film on my list to see, so will avoid looking at your comments till such time. I noticed on a separate note that William Friedkin has published his autobiography, and is due out on the 16th. On your reading list I take it? Three chapters on The Exorcist apparently. Your name has got to be in it somewhere.

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    Comment number 18.

    Dear Mark

    I had some thoughts regarding the film 'Martha Marcy May Marlene' which I noticed had not been picked up by anyone else (on the internet) and would love some feedback.
    Is it possible that Martha's decent into madness and lack of support from her sister drove her in to the cult and all the cult scenes were in fact flashed foreward. This theory is supported in many scenes like where she doesnt know reality from dreams. The timeline would go: Actual boyfriend - picked up by sister - followed by car (at end) - taken into cult - escape - reluctance to be picked up by sister. Leaving the onscreen narative in a loop that begins and ends in consecutive shots, an editing trick used continually throughout the film.

    Looking foreward to feedback from forum too.....

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    Comment number 19.

    "I want to see the zoo, she said, I want to see the zoo…"


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