5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A meadow in Monmouthshire,
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: A Field In England [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
The ghost of Winstanley, a micro-budget classic of English Civil War cinema, hangs over Ben Wheatley's latest Anglo-nightmare. A gaggle of 17th century stragglers find themselves in the titular field. Their enemy is O'Neill (Kill List's Michael Smiley), who has them digging for treasure that may not exist. Minds fracture, skulls fracture, and all the while there's an "ill planet" bearing down on mushroom-munching astrologer Whitehead (The League of Gentlemen's Reece Shearsmith).
A Field in England hangs together on the strength of its novelty. It feels rich with symbolism and portent, even if it doesn't come to much. It's about as visceral a movie experience it is possible to have on a budget of about £3.75. It may even become a cult classic in the vein of other "Weird England" movies like Witchfinder General and its period ilk. But for me it lacks the thematic clarity of something like, say, seminal hippy oddity The Wicker Man, which was a very relevant cautionary tale in the context of its era. A Field will more likely be remembered for its groundbreaking release: home video, VOD, cinema and television, all at once.
There are some very funny scenes in the film, such as when Whitehead attempts to explain astrology to his perplexed idiot colleague (Richard Glover). There are also some vividly strange scenes: the sight of Whitehead shambling from O'Neill's tent, eyes rolled back in his head, while the searing chords of Blanck Mass fill our ears, is uniquely unsettling. And there's even the semblance of a coherent plot holding everything together.
However, I felt that the film was not quite enough of anything. Not comic enough, not creepy enough, not compelling enough, and not weird enough. Murmurings of friendship amongst the men suggest there's a more serious and more moving version of Amy Jump's script to be filmed. What we have instead is a well-acted series of intense, amusing and fractured vignettes, worth experiencing at least once.