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3.8 out of 5 stars25
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 30 January 2005
Warning: 'mini'-spoiler present!
I'll try to keep this brief as I think this is one of those films which benefits from being viewed without reading any hype about it beforehand. Also, it did actually get released quite a while ago, however, I'm aware of the criticisms it received due to its less than electric pace and disturbing plot, and feel so incensed by people having dismissed the film that I feel I have to stick up for this little treasure!
It really is an excellent, beautiful and subtle film by the fantastic Lynne Ramsay who concentrates more on the colour and beauty of the film rather than the plot. Morvern Callar is filled with shot after shot of morbid, depressing yet mesmerising photography. Her use of startling colour and tones of grey guide us through the film allowing the narrative to just fall into place whilst we are admire the cinematography.
The film was not well received by some audiences (even though praised by critics) due to the subtlety (some would say boring-ness and lack of an obvious 'story'), and a lack of understanding about the things Morvern gets up to in the film. But it was never about being a typical drug-orientated free-love hippie movie. Morvern Callar's boyfriend commits suicide. She does not know what to do. Thus the chain of events which follow this incomprehensible traumatic event.
Ramsay's attention to detail focus on this feeling of being lost and going into social decline. It's not 'too deep' and for the 'elite' (webjester, Maryland, IMDb.com, a typical less than impressed viewer), and yes, it is not usually the case that girlfriends cut up the body of their recently deceased partners- but that is not what the film is about.
It's not a 'fun' film. And it's quite likely you wouldn't want to watch this more than a few times, but only because it is so powerfully bleak and discomforting. It is certainly not predictable, which makes it more interesting than your typical film. You never know how Morvern is going to react simply because she is not the usual likeable protagonist of the film; she is shown to be insensitive, emotionless, and oblivious and numb to all around her. Ramsay does not try to get the audience to sympathise with Morvern. It is refreshing to watch a protagonist you feel contempt and yet pity for. It is also equally (if not more) refreshing to watch a film about the cold-heartedness and basic oddness of society. Lovely.
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This is one of the most intense and disturbing films that I have watched in many years. When Morvern Callar’s boyfriend commits suicide at Christmas she knows that she is truly lost. An English girl fostered to a Scottish couple living in a small coastal highland town, Samantha Morton’s teenage supermarket worker conforms to a life expected of her. The death of her boyfriend releases emotions which have remained hidden to the outside world but perhaps shared with her now deceased partner. This unique film opens a window to a world of noisy wild abandon and quiet isolated desperation, which allows us a glance at the lives of pained hedonistic teenagers without discernible hope or direction. Lynne Ramsey’s film perhaps reminds us how important it is to consider our own circumstances and how content we are with our own lives. Definitely not a comfortable watch, but thankfully not every movie is made for pure entertainment. Outstandingly original, beautifully filmed, provocative and challenging.
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on 7 February 2010
This is a film that will either speak to you, or not. It's not for everyone, hence it gets 4 stars from me even though I think higher of it.

It's about a girl with no hope or prospects who, when faced with tragedy, takes unusual steps to survive a grieving process that should overwise consume her.

It's a dark and sombre film which ends somewhat bathed in light, but not necessarily joy. A film to watch alone of with someone close.

Samantha Morton's performance is outstanding; deserving of 5 stars by itself.
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It's tempting to list ways this film puzzled me. WHY did Morvern not just immediately ring the police when she found her boyfriend had committed suicide? Why, if she was so close to her best friend, didn't she tell her the truth? And are we really supposed to believe she would have had the physical and mental strength to do the things she subsequently did with his body? But what the heck, the film is actually quite brilliant and unique. Samantha Morton is perfectly cast, her face at different times can give either nothing, or all, away. For everyone desperate for a way out, though hopefully not by such ... criminal means.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 16 January 2012
*Some scene mentioning spoilers within*

Don't ask why. It just felt like the right thing to do, that is part of the brief suicide note that her live in boyfriend has left Morvern Callar (Samantha Morton). It could also serve as a statement by director Lynne Ramsay about her whole film. A complex, intimate and emotionally weird picture that infuriates and astonishes in equal measure. Films like this are beloved by the arthouse set, open to interpretations of meanings, leading to debates and division about art over substance, cranial trickery over straight narratives, it be a place where much is being said without anything actually being said. Little moments are metaphors or symbolic to a character's state of mind, visual flourishes flit in and out of the story, often burning an image into the viewers' subconscious. Music can play a big part, and with Morvern Callar it's one of the most crucial parts of the film, another character in fact.

Thank you for shopping at Pennysaver.

Ramsay's adaptation (co-written with Liana Dognini) of Gen X author Alan Warner's novel, begs for your undivided attention. That's no guarantee you will enjoy it, for it's often cold and, on the surface at least, head scratching in its intentions. But you will react to it in one form or another, Ramsay is a talent, and she wants (and gets) a reaction to her film. She's not throwing out any bones, you find the answers, watch it and draw your own conclusions. Morton is brilliant, with only a few actual passages of dialogue in the film, Morton is required to provide more visually and emotionally to make Morvern a watchable force. And she does and she is. Morton is backed up by Kathleen McDermott, an unknown first timer who as Morvern's good time loving best pal, Lanna, brings a humanised realism to this sometimes bleak fairytale.

This is dedicated to the one I love.

With Alwin Kuchler's striking photography putting an almost ethereal sheen on proceedings, Morvern Callar, both the character and the film, feels otherworldly. Many scenes grab you by the throat, like Morvern sitting alone on the floor opening her Xmas presents as the tree lights go blink blinkity blink, her dead boyfriends corpse still laid out on the floor, rotting. A high jinx baking sequence, snatches of insects at work, or a lonely walk in the middle of nowhere, is it poetry or posing? Or neither? Either way, Morvern Callar is a memorable film, a close examination of the human mind at work under emotional duress. Today I rate it an easy 8/10, on another day, when my mood is at a different setting, I could quite easily rate it 3/10. It's an experience is Morvern Callar, and then some.
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on 28 December 2007
The positive reviews here surprise me - there are alot of people vigorously complaining about this film on message boards elsewhere, saying that it is plotless, lacking in dialogue and an utter waste of time. It is not as bad as all that and Lynne Ramsay's film, based on the novel Morvern Callar (1999) by Alan Warner, clearly does have a plot: our anti-heroine caresses the body of her boyfriend, who we slowly realise is lying dead - his wrists slit - under the blinking neon lights of the Christmas tree. Left with a considerable amount of money and a finished novel which her boyfriend has left on a disc, Morvern (Samantha Morton) is faced with terrible grief, but also with a possibility to break out of her mundane, stultifying life and experience something new. She embarks on a personal journey, in the course of which she pushes back her boundaries and gradually becomes an active agent in her own life. Morvern fills her psyche with loud music and pills, engages in casual sex and sets off with a friend on an impromptu holiday to southern Spain (having sold her boyfriend's novel to publishers under her own name for a tidy sum).

Samantha Morton plays Morvern's wounded introspection and emotional vacancy brilliantly: she seems to intuitively understand her. And newcomer Kathleen McDermott - who was working as a trainee hairdresser in Glasgow's Argyle Street when approached by casting director Des Hamilton - is stunningly convincing as Morvern's friend, the bubbly and game-for-a-laugh Lanna. The difficulty for viewers is, I think, that Morvern is for the most part emotionally mute and almost autistic (a characteristic which contrasts with her boyfriend's literacy and creative output): we drift into a sensory ride through a club landscape with its throbbing lights and across the wild Spanish countryside, but are not allowed much access into Morvern's disturbed psyche or emotional impoverishment. Her blank, moon-like face shuts us out; with her headphones on for much of it, Morvern is cocooned in her own reality, in which trauma and pain are not expressed, but doggedly contained in the self. For me, this makes for a film about searching - blindly - for an answer, for a greater sense of identity, for agency. As Morvern drags her bag and battered case amongst the cacti and dusty roads of Spain, I was reminded of that Sylvia Plath line that seems written for her: "There is no terminus, only suitcases".

There are other problems, too. The two publishers who spontaneously fly out to Spain to meet Morvern are too clichéd, too much like cardboard cut-outs. It also seems implausible that they would participate in her holiday activities and pay her £100,000 in one fat cheque, without any talk of re-writes or publicity meetings, etc. Moreover, Morvern's burial of her boyfriend's body (which she has just dismembered, with her trusty headphones on, in the bath) using only a small, flat-bladed garden tool is distractingly odd. Samantha Morton did not have time to work up a Scottish accent, too, so - in contrast to the novel - she has a Nottingham accent and is not originally from the area.

Ramsay has said that she didn't intend her as a completely realistic character, saying that she saw the story as "a bit of a black fairytale": "The way she saw the world, how she didn't take the road she was meant to - she's kind of a revolutionary to me". It doesn't quite work in my opinion, but it's worth seeing nonetheless for the two main performances and for the unusual, catatonic enigma that is Morvern Callar.

Recommended>
Sweet And Lowdown (DVD),Jesus' Son (DVD) and Control (DVD) - in all three of which Samantha Morton stars
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on 9 July 2015
Fantastic storyline fantastic acting Samantha Morton plays the part of Morven Callar as if it was written with her in mind.She is truly stunning.
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on 5 April 2016
This was cast, filmed and played to perfection.
A really unusual film that had the pace and feel of Nicolas Roeg’s Walkabout.
High praise from me.
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on 4 August 2015
moody is not the new cool if it's tedious and bland.
lots of filmmakers go through the same phase...
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on 23 June 2015
Great acting by Samantha, I just love her. Now I'm going to have too read the Book.. I read mix reviews!
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