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Morton's Caller

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Mark Kermode | 12:39 UK time, Friday, 19 February 2010

As directorial calling cards go, Samantha Morton's brilliant debut The Unloved demands a bigger screen than the TV scale version it recently premiered on. The film gets a limited cinema release this week and reminds us just what an extraordinary talent Morton has already shown us as an actor in films ranging from Morvern Callar to Minority Report, and even in Harmony Korine's Mister Lonely.

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  • Comment number 1.

    'the unloved' is a very good debut from sammantha morton but why is it getting a cinema release now?

    agreed regarding sammantha morton's acting always worth a watch even if some of her films(morven cellar, in america) are quite poor

    her 'in america' co-star paddy considine is another exceptional actor

  • Comment number 2.

    Totally agree, "The Unloved" on TV was a uncomfortable experience with robert Carlyle giving a chilling performance. The child actor molly Windsor who played Lucy is one to watch for the future. Also if anyone is interested there is a good interview with Sammantha Morton on the Channel 4 website talking about The unloved.

    PS: Any news about the director's cut of The Devils being released?

  • Comment number 3.

    Off topic, but I've enjoyed reading your book very much.
    Two comments:-
    1) It's too short - you should have used a smaller font and typed more letters.
    2) Your are *far* too self-deprecating. Once or twice is funny, but you could win a Lifetime Achievement Award in that category. Take some credit, for goodness sake.

  • Comment number 4.

    Dear Dr. K

    There is no difference between something commissioned by a television company and something commissioned by a film studio. Both use actors, both can be low or high budget, both can be shot in the same aspect ratios, Both can have the same attention to detail, Both can be slow or fast paced.

    It is all in your head. Get over this snobbishness and enjoy drama whether it is in the cinema or on television.


  • Comment number 5.

    I actually felt the unloved was a little bit self indulgent - perhaps because it was so fiercely autobiographical but I think it would've benefited from a more ruthless edit. Nevertheless it was still a really solid debut and I totally agree on Morton acting prowess. She's part of a very small club of "if they're involved, it's worth seeing" actors.

  • Comment number 6.

    is this filmed in your house? love the art deco furniture ...

  • Comment number 7.

    violence. rockumentaries. animations. representation of the afterlife, and now samantha morton.

    when are we gonna get some feedback, dr. k?

  • Comment number 8.

    Also, remember that Samantha Morton starrted in Control a couple of years ago, and was every bit as good as Sam Riley.

  • Comment number 9.

    And by starrted I obviously mean starred.

  • Comment number 10.

    I never realized it but I totally agree with you about Samantha Morton. It got me thinking about other actors which carry the same kind of presence. I immediately thought of Brian Cox. There are lots more but I thought of him first. Cox is, in my opinion, vastly underrated as he is one of those actors that I always look forward to seeing and am delighted when he turns up on screen. It's usually a surprise as he is never normally one of the main credited actors on the posters, the DVD covers or the Sky Movies plot synopsis, when however he appears on screen I am almost immediately won over and settle in for the long haul, knowing that, if nothing else, his performance will be captivating.

  • Comment number 11.

    Too bad the Weinsteins fired Samantha Morton from Brothers Grimm. She would've made Terry Gilliam's only bad movie (not his fault) watchable.

  • Comment number 12.

    Completely off-message, and I'm sure Mark will do something on this, but RIP Lionel Jeffries. What are the chances they'll put The Amazing Mr Blunden on TV? Time to use your influence Mark!

  • Comment number 13.

    What about the Winterbottom film "Code 46"? Even the talented Ms(mrs?) Morton couldn't save this one unfortunately (although, fair play for trying guys - we need a bit of decent intelligent SF in films).

    p.s. Had to re-sign up for a BBC login and, it would seem, the Beeb object to my surname! Strange.... A re-occurrence of the so-called "Scunthorpe problem"?

  • Comment number 14.

    Dr. K has forgotten to mark the last pieces of homework!!!!!

  • Comment number 15.

    (a) I've just read your book and it is, indeed, over in a flash - and I even purchased it with real money.

    (b) I've been trying to track down "This Is the Sea" (with Sam Morton) to no avail - it doesn't even seem to be on DVD.

    (c) There's a really nice interview with Ms Morton in the Guardian's Film Weekly podcast this week. She's SO enthusiastic about what she does!

  • Comment number 16.

    Can I echo Redfield's comment: for all the other things that are wrong with it, would The Brothers Grimm be a better film if Samantha Morton had been cast?

  • Comment number 17.

    What about the libertine?she brought some talent to this movie...apart from Johnny Depp.

  • Comment number 18.

    Samantha Morton is one of those astonishingly rare talents who can do more on a cinema screen with a look than any number of "stars" can do with the greatest script & all the technology in the world. Alec Guinness had the same ability to be the stillness in the screen, & even when doing nothing draw the eye directly to him.

    Yes, definitely on the "if they're in it, I'll give it a chance" category. And maintaining that status after a good long opportunity to go AWOL and stupid like so many others who start off well (did anyone say Tilda Swinton post-Jarman's death?).

    And I'm with comment #1 about Paddy Considine too.

  • Comment number 19.

    "In America"

    - another brilliant film with Samantha Morton in it. Can't believe you forgot to mention that one, Dr. K...

  • Comment number 20.

    I had a similar reaction the The Unloved, Samantha Morton is truley brilliant. I feel similar about Alan Tudyk, (case and point Dodgeball).

    Dr. K's take on Westiners is halarious, as a Vancouverite, I am ashamed to agree, but find the sad reality quite amusing.

  • Comment number 21.

    Hang on. Actors that move into directing / production usually get very short shrift from the good doctor. Do we need a revision to this theory where female actors are concerned?

    Samantha Morton and Sarah Polley being two great examples..

  • Comment number 22.

    RIP Lionel Jeffries

  • Comment number 23.

    Mark,I'd like to know your thoughts on the virtual disappearance of foreign movies from terrestial tv. I could understand this better if they were common on sky or cable but they are rare here too. I have a movie collection going back to the 80's but it gets added to only rarely now. I mean films like Painija (Finland), Derzu Uzula,L'enfence du Chef, or Afterlife.There must be lots out there I have'nt seen and would love to. I do use Love Film but cant understand this change in the last ten years. Thanks

  • Comment number 24.

    I saw 'The Unloved' at the ICA yesterday and it is quite an exceptional film for the cinema. It is cinematic, and it's televisual release may have devalued it. IMO it is a more cinematic piece than Andrea Arnold's Fish Tank, which was highly praised, but felt like more of a television piece than 'The Unloved'.

    Samantha Morton throughout her directorial debut demonstrated how wonderful a talent she is and it is a great shame if she fulfils her promise to never direct again, as she could be a fine directorial force if she continues her exceptional progress.

  • Comment number 25.

    Don't forget that she played Myra Hindley in "Longford," and mediocre actors tend not to go for roles like that. She also brought a sympathetic gritty realism to her role in "Control." Yes, she's definitely someone I've noticed too...

  • Comment number 26.

    I actually really rated "Code 46", but this does not necessarily mean it's good cinema. It's one of those films that comes on BBC2 late one night and you miss the opening credits, and the tellys not digital, and there's no tv guide to hand, and you're like, "What the hell IS this film?", and you end up watching and falling asleep afterwards, and never finding out what it was, until 2 years later it happens again, its on in the SAME slot, and you watch the opening credits, and your all "It can't be that it" and you watch it again in awe of that one night stand you had two years previous, when you never got her name. It used to happen all the time to me in the 90s before IMDB, and i really cherish those little encounters. And as for the film itself, its a hazy, insomnia-tinged piece of low-budget sci-fi, with a performance from Morton that touches on what she did for 'Minority Report', and a performance that creates heavy, heady chemistry between her and Tim Robbins, who i think couldnt have played it better in his subtlety. In tone it's like 'Minority Report'/'Children of Men'/'Blood Diamond' meet 'Lost in Translation', with no reliance on sci-fi action. I'd love to hear what Mark thought of it. And like i said, i'm not saying its GREAT cinema, but there's definite chemistry and weird tension going on in it that really caught me of guard the night i watched by accident in bed. I recommend.

  • Comment number 27.

    Another sleeper is "Jesus' Son".
    I only saw it recently because it was available online for free from a national video rental company. Never heard of it before. Fantastic.

    Samantha played her part beautifully in harmony with the rest of a really strong cast.

    (Any ideas why Billy Crudup didn't achieve any recognition after this film? His recent turn as Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen proved that he can turn his hand to anything)


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