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Morvern Callar

Morvern Callar opened the Edinburgh Film Festival 2002.

It's directed by Lynne Ramsay, stars Samantha Mortona and is adapted from the Alan Warner novel.

(Edited highlights of the panel's review)


KIRSTY WARK:
Simon Armitage, what did you make of this?

SIMON ARMITAGE:
It was a very slow start, dingy, grimy. Something had to happen. About 20 minutes in, we suddenly found ourselves in the supermarket, which opened up the film to all kinds of possibilities.

This woman could be real or surreal, ordinary or extraordinary. That blasted the thing wide open. One thing that it led to after that, when there was narrative and story line, it also led to hope.

The film kept getting brighter. We started off somewhere in deepest, darkest Scotland, and ended up in shining Ibiza. We were moving out of Christmas towards daylight and warmth.

She was a character who had termination, direction. I felt she was moving towards something. I found it exhilarating, especially the party scenes.

If you have never been bombed out of your head at a party and you want to know what it's like, go and see that scene!

KIRSTY WARK:
The visual imagery was phenomenal. The look of it was fantastic.

IAN RANKIN:
Like Ratcatcher, it's visual. That's what Lynne Ramsay does best. She is not quite so good at narrative. She says she has stripped this novel back. This is a skeleton here.

KIRSTY WARK:
She calls it a companion piece.

IAN RANKIN:
Morvern Callar is suddenly English, not Scots, and suddenly she is an alien creature. She is alienated from every society she tries to be part of.

She wanders through the film a bit like David Bowie in a Man who Fell to Earth. You feel like she has just dropped into these situations.

There is good photography, terrific editing, the sound is good, the story didn't compel me, though.

Lynn has made this comment about her being an existential heroine, that she has her own fate and she is not going to let you know what it is.

But we needed to know more. There were tiny, niggling things that they got wrong, enough to irritate me.

KIRSTY WARK:
What, because you were being pedantic?

IAN RANKIN:
No. If you walk around in Oban in the middle of winter, you can see your breath, and you can't in this film. You can't bury a body by digging in the ground with a trowel.

KIRSTY WARK:
Are you not being too literal about it?

IAN RANKIN:
It's a film of a book. I think you are allowed to be a bit literal.

BONNIE GREER:
I don't know the book at all. I saw her first feature, Ratcatcher, and she is a great visual director.

In this film, she is handling her actors and she has really moved on. The acting is superb. The amateurs and the professionals, especially the young actress who plays Lana - she is impeccable.

Lynne Ramsay handles this well, but she doesn't know how to tell a story. That's the next thing for her.

KIRSTY WARK:
Is it not that she allows you to have the story in your own head and make of it what you will?

BONNIE GREER:
She said she wanted to tell a story about a person who didn't have a motive. Everybody has a motive, either known or not known.

If you want to make a story about a person with no motive, you put people around them who have motives. The only person that you pay attention to, for me anyway, was the character that Lana plays. There are two endings in the movie.

KIRSTY WARK:
We are not allowed to give the endings away.

BONNIE GREER:
She gives the false ending, because she doesn't believe in narrative. Narrative is a very cheap thing.

Narrative asks questions like, "What happened to this thing? Why is she doing this now and where is she going there?" It's disturbing when she doesn't answer these questions.

SIMON ARMITAGE:
I think the narrative was quite straightforward. She leaves it to the imagination.

This wonderful scene where she goes to the bedroom. It doesn't explain how she has got to know this character, but she goes there to grieve with him. It's left to your imagination. I was fine with that.

See also:

05 Apr 02 | Panel

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