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11 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Requires patience, understanding and a dark sense of humour...
Anyone coming to this film expecting another Ken Loach or a Nil by Mouth, a gritty improvised drama, etc, will inevitably be disappointed. The Great Ecstasy... is something else altogether, something arguably not seen in a British debut since Peter Greenaway. It is an ambitious Art film with a capital A, inspired in its narrative and aesthetics by the likes of Bresson,...
Published on 22 Feb 2007 by Richard Boyle

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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Absolute rubbish
This is one of the worst films I have ever seen and I am a huge fan of gritty British films. This isn't gritty - gritty films by the likes of Dominic Savage and Ken Loach are gritty because they smack of truth. They are rooted in truthful characters and situations, improvised or scripted brilliantly. The script for this awful attempt at a film is so weak I find it hard to...
Published on 13 Feb 2007 by MummyPower


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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Rubbish!!!, 14 Nov 2007
By 
Philip Collinson "phil_collinson" (South Shields) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Ok, so here I am, reviewing 'The 'Great' Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael.' This . . . film, has to be the worst one to ever come out of Britain, which is such a shame because I love new British movies, especially by new/young directors. But THIS, what was this? There was NO meaningful dialogue and absolutely NO characterization or plot. The fact that the only scene I can remember is the last one (a brutal gang rape of a woman in front of her husband which is shown in the most violent and horrific detail I have ever seen) shows what an appalling movie this really was.

Oh and there are many people who are talking about "art" and asking us to "look within the film to see its true messgage." I did...it was still rubbish. AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE!!!!!!!!
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars pretentious attempt to shock and impress, 7 Feb 2007
what a disapointing dull little film this is. I was very interested to see it after the furore it caused and my overiding feeling is that thefilmmakers were out of their depth. There are so many character non-sequitors, jumps in assumption and simple bad story telling that it is difficult to take this film seriously. The cinematography is sometimes lovely, often striking, the use of music is full of cliche but effective.

The ending is inept, not so much shocking as witless and cruel. Save your money; there are many more interesting debut films around.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Pretentious shock-cinema that tries to be relevant, but really it's a "bad film"., 29 Oct 2007
It's very easy to lose perspective. Even if The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael was a great film rife with rich performances, intelligent ideas and a genuinely revolutionary cinematic design, it would still be a film that shamelessly exploits violence and abuse for the sake of shock value, in an obvious attempt to get people to pay attention. But what are we supposed to be paying attention to?

The film is littered with social realist clichés, from the talented young protégé alienated from his middle-class surroundings, to his eventual descent into drug addiction, crime, rape and ultimately murder, all at the approval of his lower-class chums. If the plot wasn't hackneyed enough we then have the stilted direction, with the film borrowing heavily from the work of filmmakers such as Michael Haneke (Funny Games), Lars von Trier (Dogville) and Gaspar Noé (Irreversible), with those lingering long-takes, overly complicated tracking shots, match-cuts, spliced-in footage of actual war atrocities and much use of brooding classical music. All of this is combined with a drab and lifeless production design that is grey and pallid and only really helps to further bring out the squalid grime of the surroundings of these baseball cap wearing, track-suited stereotypes.

The film hints at the psychological depth and subversive black and white morality of the filmmakers aforementioned but really lacks any such weight or integrity, instead coming across like a Daily Mail article committed to film by Peter Greenaway's retarded younger brother. Certainly it's fine for a filmmaker to take influence from those that came before, as it is with any form of art, but instead of being inspired and influenced by people like Haneke and Noé into creating a thought-provoking and provocative drama, Robert Carmichael's director Thomas Clay has instead learned the lesson that shock sells; so we get the home-invasion theme from Funny Games played out with cynical black humour replacing Haneke's skilful attacks at this kind of film's violence for violence sake; all wrapped up in an awkward attempt justify these actions on the grounds of apathy, and then topped off with the graphic, prolonged rape-scene as central talking point concept lifted from the genuinely thought-provoking (if no less morally dubious) Irreversible.

With almost every conceited plot-device - from the drugs, to the rape, to the life of violence - we see the filmmakers striving to get a reaction out of their audience no matter how far they have to go to contrive the drama or compromise the integrity of their characters. It's less about intelligent filmmaking and more akin to a toddler banging a saucepan with a wooden spoon while shouting "look at me, look at me". You have to ask yourself what you hope to get from this film, because at the most all it offers is a lot of drifting shots of nicely lit locations, two-dimensional characters swearing and being angst-ridden with each other and the lurid and offensive notion that the rape sequence is the film's "unique selling point".

Many who appreciate the film like to read into it as a critique on the war in Iraq, which is an interesting idea but one that I feel gives the filmmakers far too much credit. Regardless of how many atrocities are committed in war, or even on our streets and behind closed doors, to document the graphic gang-rape and abuse of a helpless couple in their own home is irresponsible. As with violence, scenes of sex and indeed, rape, are never entirely relevant to the story at a hand, but are rather, stylistic devices that a director exploits for various dramatic reasons; be it for the sake of accuracy or to make a point. What we have with Robert Carmichael is a film that uses rape for the sake of having a controversial talking point. If the rape was central to the story, then Clay could have pulled away and cut to another scene and still conveyed the weight of dramatic tension through the subtext of the writing and the performances of his actors. Understandably realising that his script was weak and his actors were weaker (you know you're in trouble when the aptly named Danny Dyer gives one of the strongest performances in the film) Clay resorts to a lengthy fixed-camera affair, in which a bound husband has to watch his wife violated by a group of leering yobs.

So, what real reason is there to watch this film? Nice cinematography? I suppose so. I guess it also taps into the recent demonising of any young lad wearing a baseball cap, with the film probably making perfect conversation fodder for middle-class dinner parties, but really - in terms of telling an interesting, stimulating and thought-provoking story - I'm afraid to say, it falls flat.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not that good i'm afraid..........., 2 Dec 2010
This review is from: The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael [2010] [DVD] (DVD)
Dissapointed with this movie, i was expecting more- the trailer is better than the film. Danny plays his usual 'ned/chav' character and was ok but the movie was dire. Sound is pretty poor through home cinema kit as well. Going to sell this dvd or give it as a gift at christmas. Its no 'footbal factory' or 'human traffic' standard.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible!, 22 Sep 2008
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One to avoid.This is someone trying to outdo Clockwork Orange and it does not even come close.There are no good points to say about this film,the best thing is when it ends.
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11 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Requires patience, understanding and a dark sense of humour..., 22 Feb 2007
By 
Richard Boyle (London, England) - See all my reviews
Anyone coming to this film expecting another Ken Loach or a Nil by Mouth, a gritty improvised drama, etc, will inevitably be disappointed. The Great Ecstasy... is something else altogether, something arguably not seen in a British debut since Peter Greenaway. It is an ambitious Art film with a capital A, inspired in its narrative and aesthetics by the likes of Bresson, Antonioni, Mizoguchi, Dumont... Whether the film succeeds is, of course, a matter of opinion, and it certainly sets the bar HIGH, but you must first engage with the material on its own terms - with a real understanding of the medium and a grasp of what the director is trying to achieve. For example, if the narrative is inept, then Bresson's Au Hasard Balthazar must also be inept... Bresson's film being the closest comparison I can think of, combining a genuine feeling for the earth - for cold reality - with a sparse, eliptical narrative, a fatalistic lyricism and a rigorous sense of form and aesthetics.

Evolving in hypnotic 35mm widescreen plan-sequence shots that are intricately constructed and timed, the intentionally eliptical story-telling strips away all unnecessary drama, the characters developed in small details and clues that an inattentive viewer will likely miss or fail to piece together. Key events often take place entirely off screen, ala Ozu, eg. the re-arrest of Danny Dyer's character or the death of Marie. To put it another way, Clay makes no concession to the audience whatsoever! And this, for me, is what ultimately convinces. There are far too many directors out there trying to please, especially in the United Kingdom - look no further than the executive-developed, cop-out finale to Angela Arnold's Red Road.

Perhaps the execution does not always quite match the intention, but the only genuinely false note I can think of in The Great Ecstasy... is the inclusion of the WWII documentary footage in the climactic scenes. The problem with this moment is that it simplifies what has, until this point, been an incredibly complex and difficult scene. A scene that deals uncompromisingly with issues of masculinity, mortality, jealously and ambition... Then the image of Churchill appears and, suddenly, we don't have to think anymore. Suddenly, it is all too easy to write everything off as a bald anti-war statement or a punk middle-finger to British nationalism or whatever else. But there is so much more going on here. Indeed, Robert's barbarous coming of age is one of the bravest and most frightening pieces of filmmaking I have witnessed in a long time, a satisfying and harshly logical conclusion to an accomplished and deeply personal piece of work.

Finally, I would like to comment on the humour in the film. To me, The Great Ecstasy... could almost be classed as a black comedy - a quality often missed by critics and audiences alike. The myopic outbursts of the DJ during the notorious 'blue room' rape scene; the parody of Saving Private Ryan's simplistic moralism played out by school children over the wreckage of a WWII sea defense; Joe's admiration for the extravagant fish in the chef's freezer... Moments like this are worthy of another oft-misunderstood British talent, namely Chris Morris.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Shame, could've been a contender, 8 Aug 2011
This review is from: The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael [2010] [DVD] (DVD)
From the reviews here you'd think this film was completely devoid of merit, I don't agree, although I concede it has gaping flaws and is ultimately a failure. On the plus side its really well shot and makes great use of the surrounding locales. The director obviously has some talent and knows how to compose a shot. Should be noted that theres no violence for a good 80 minutes so this is no constant bloodbath.
On the down side the acting is am dram at times, the dialogue poor and characterisation unbelievable. One scene of the drama teacher asking the TV chef to look at his book is haunting in its awfulness. The infamous last 10 minutes is grim but doesn't feel remotely realistic, just shock for shocks sake. The similar scene in Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer showed less but felt worse. As for the decision to intercut war footage and the pretentious quote at the end, oh dear, less said the better. Pity, as this could have been a really good movie if it had kept the vibe of the first hour or so.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars rubbish, 7 April 2011
This review is from: The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael [2010] [DVD] (DVD)
this film was a complete waste of time it was boring drab and i am embarresed that this is a british film it wastes all of the actors time and it was a complete waste of british film making money which could have been better spent on making a real film
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bleak, 24 Jan 2011
Probably the most visually disturbing film i have ever seen. Watching the final scene i was quite literally brought to tears it was that horrific to watch! And i am not easily shocked or offended, i saw this film a few years ago but unfortunately that scene will always stay with me! As for the rest of the film, not even worth a review. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.The Great Ecstasy Of Robert Carmichael [2005] [DVD] [2006]
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Only Ecstasy Is The Off Switch, 8 Dec 2010
This film has the dubious honour of attracting the worst customer reviews I've ever seen, but I think it's still being overpraised! To call it one of the worst British films ever made (as one reviewer stated) isn't strong enough. Why confine it to this country? This sickeningly pretentious piece of pernicious garbage has to be a candidate for World's Worst Film Award. The director has absolutely nothing to offer apart from repetitive and mundane tracking shots or endless master shots where he keeps the camera about twenty yards from his actors, ensuring we feel zero connection to any of the events or characters. As if that wasn't bad enough, some dork decided it would be a good idea to have bombastic classical pieces as a soundtrack, resulting in the most inappropriate use of music I've ever encountered in a film. Add to the mix: no story, witless dialogue, badly directed actors and a repulsive final sequence, and you have a film with no redeeming features whatsoever. A disgusting, worthless failure.
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