Saturday, February 08, 2003

Morvern Callar (IMDB) (Netflix)
Your boyfriend has just a) finished his first novel and b) killed himself in your apartment. What do you do? My guess is that you wouldn't make any of Morven Callar's (Samantha Morton) choices, which are mostly inexplicable and off-putting.

Small, non-traditional films are often a crapshoot--there are the little gems that make you want to run out of the theater at the end to tell everyone that they just have to see it, and there are the ones that, well before the end, just make you want to run out. "Callar" is the latter kind, minimally plotted and featuring enigmatically motivated characters, a let's-just-roll-the-cameras-and-see-what-happens pacing, and a so-what point. It's also a bad sign when the character you most root for has died before the film starts.

After delivering the best performance in Minority Report as one of the "pre-cogs," Morton does what little she can with the opaque material, but this adaptation from Alan Warner's novel likely suffers from the screenwriters being too faithful to a book consisting of extensive internal dialogue and exposition that, as the movie professionals say, "won't shoot." At least, not without wholesale re-conceptualization for the screen (fellow traveler Erica Lauf lauded The English Patient for working both as a novel and as movie, but only by being two very different treatments of the same story). I stopped trying to care about Morton's character after ten minutes, and felt sorry for Scotland, which is the geographical and cultural whipping boy of the film, again for no apparent reason.