Sunday, January 16th, 2005
Everything You Do Is A Balloon
I read Alan Warner’s Morvern Callar in university, some seven or eight years ago, I think. Why? I don’t know – I do remember that it was the first piece of fiction I’d read in some time and that I got it from the university library, of all places. I honestly don’t remember too much of it, save that it was really kind of bleak and with a streak of black humour so subtle that if you weren’t looking for it, it was easy to miss. In a nutshell, the titular character is a Scottish girl who works in a supermarket. One day, she discovers her boyfriend has just completed his first novel and committed suicide. He leaves her instructions to hold his funeral and submit his book to a list of publishers. Instead, she disposes of the body, uses the funeral money to take a friend on holiday in Spain and submits the book as her own. Got it? Good, because that’s really about all there is to it. I don’t remember particularly liking it, but just thinking, “what an odd book”. I was more impressed that I’d chosen to spend the time on a piece of fiction rather than studying, but that’s another matter entirely.
So I was moderately surprised when I saw they’d made a film based on the book a couple years ago. I didn’t think there was nearly enough narrative in the novel to spin a film out of, and having now seen the film, I think I was correct. Director Lynne Ramsay pads the film with some nice shots of the Spanish countryside and some sequences perhaps intended to illustrate Callar’s state of mind, but when that state of mind is either utterly inscrutable or utterly vacant, that will only get you so far. Samantha Morton gives a good performance in the lead role, though I’m not sure how difficult “catatonic” is to pull off for 90 minutes. It’s an interesting directorial decision to do away any sort of score for the film – the only music to be heard is either environmental (ie- in a club) or heard via Morvern’s headphones. In the book, the mix tape and walkman left for her by her dead boyfriend plays a fairly large role in things – this prominence is maintained in the film, though I think they messed with the playlist some. On the whole, I didn’t dislike this movie – it didn’t make me angry or anything – it was just kind of pointless. There’s some plot at the beginning and the end, but the middle portion is left to the viewer to decide if anything is actually happening. Me, I’m not sure. I have theories as to what the themes and intent of the movie (and book) were, but they’re so subtle, it’s entirely possible I’m just up excuses for the author and director.
So yeah. This is what I get when all the copies of Anchorman are out.
Nothing else for today.
np – Sigur Ros / Agaetis Byrjun