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Morvern Callar (2002)

Cast: Samantha Morton, Kathleen McDermott, Raife Patrick Burchell, more...
Director: Lynne Ramsay
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Lions Gate
Genre: Drama, Foreign, Independent, British Drama, UK, Quest, Road Movies
Running Time: 97 min.
Languages: English
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A woman's life is set onto a new path by tragedy and confusion in this offbeat drama from maverick director Lynne Ramsay. Morvern Callar (Samantha Morton) is a woman in her early twenties who wakes up in her flat in a small Scottish town on Christmas morning to a rather unpleasant surprise -- her live-in boyfriend has committed suicide, and his body lies on the floor in a pool of blood. She discovers that he has left a short message for her on the screen of his personal computer ("I love you. Be brave."), as well as the text of a novel he had recently completed. Changing the name on the title page to her own, Morvern begins sending the manuscript out to publishers without having actually read it. Eventually, Morvern disposes of her boyfriend's body, scrubs away the evidence of his suicide, and attempts to reintegrate herself with the world, though the shocking events seems to have built a wall between her and those around her, and she is unable to explain what has happened to anyone, even her best friend, Lanna (Kathleen McDermott). Eventually, Morvern draws the last of her boyfriend's money from the bank and treats herself and Lanna to a short vacation in Spain, where they become friendly with a group of hedonistic British expatriates and soon find their friendship stretched to the breaking point. Morvern Callar was based on the novel by Alan Warner; it was originally intended to be Lynne Ramsay's first directorial effort, but she was able to complete her film Ratcatcher before securing funding for this project. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Special Features:

  • Behind the scenes bonus footage
  • Theatrical Trailer

GreenCine Member Reviews

With a name like Morvern... by underdog December 31, 2003 - 10:07 AM PST
2 out of 4 members found this review helpful
...she's going to be a bit eccentric. How you take to her, and to this film, may well depend on both your expectations and sensibilities, as this is essentially an art film and as such one should not go in expecting major plot mechanisms and characters you will fall in love with. Director Lynne Ramsey, who's been thought well enough to make the Guardian's (UK) list of the World's 40 Best Directors, after a whopping two films in her repertoire, with her first film, Ratcatcher, which is similarly not for all tastes, already receiving the Criterion treatment. Movern is a challenging film, because the central character does a few things that are hard to fathom, hard to excuse, and yet perfectly in keeping with her character -- and with the incredibly expressive Samantha Morton as its portrayer, riveting. Morton is so good in her dreamlike way I kept watching just to see what she'd be up to next, and in a couple of crucial scenes toward the end in particular, she astonishes with practically wordless finesse (calling to mind her mute performance in Woody Allen's Sweet and Lowdown).

Yes, Morvern is basically one f***ed up young lady, but that's not the thing here. What is really fascinating is to see a film shot by a woman, taking on a woman's point of view, and doing it in the same way does a great short story told from the POV of an unreliable narrator -- draws you in, makes you take a step back to remember you are inside a troubled mind. It's also exceptionally well shot; Ramsay has a great eye for detail, a photographer's eye, really, but is gifted enough to shift the style around a bit depending on the emotions of the scene.

It also helped me to see the film -- and this will be difficult for most people -- as a very black comedy. Sick, but funny. The music score is also superb -- although one may get frustrated that some of the great songs only come in as quick snippets (but Ramsay plays around with sound, too, jumping from music as soundtrack to music from Morvern's POV). There is no doubt that the film stumbles a few times, getting caught up as art films often do, in its pretentiousness, and I was also frustrated that the DVD comes sans subtitle options (it should be a requirement that all Scottish films have English subtitles), but for those who are game, and interested in film as art, over film as entertainment, Morvern Callar is a trip worth taking.

Film school offal by larbeck December 26, 2003 - 9:13 PM PST
4 out of 7 members found this review helpful
Samantha Morton and Kathleen McDermott are good actors. The tragedy is that their talent is so wasted in this terrible film, an aimless examination of a working class girl and her best friend who tries to cope with her boyfriend's suicide. Nothing is explained, little is resolved, that the journey is a disjoined mess that borrows from more B pictures than anyone cares to count and a selection of music that it was cut and pasted from a dentist's office, a factory, and a Z-grade bargain basement CD bin. Any decent film school would have rejected this entry and you should too. Also, a warning. There are no subtitles of any kind and the Scottish accent are thick. There is dialog that is totally unintelligible to these Texas ears. But sadly, I don't think it matters a bit.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.41)
130 Votes
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Cannes Film Festival & More - 2002
Official Selection, Certain Regards... and more. Here is a bit more information on the films screened at the Cannes. I have attempted to list all the films that were considered for an award as well as any special screenings.
Bonnie Scotland
With an emphasis on the creepy or depressing

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