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Sentimental journeys

OUT NOW! Ben Wheatley outlines sentimentality through a romantic couple that bonds over killing in the excellent SIGHTSEERS.

1. Sentimental, adj. Of or prompted by feelings of tenderness, sadness, or nostalgia.

“It’s now or never,” says Chris (Steve Oram) in Sightseers as he puts the car into reverse and runs over a litterbug tourist in the parking lot of the Tram Museum in Crich. He’s actually referring to the expiry of a 2-for-1 deal at the Pencil Museum – the next stop on the itinerary he’s worked out for girlfriend Tina (Alice Lowe), whose dominant mother is threatening to pull the plug on their romantic getaway. But it’s clear soon enough that there’s more than meets the eye to accidental death as Tina warms to the less attractive sides of Chris’ personality and follows this first fatality with an invitation to some enthusiastic sex.

As they head north towards Scotland, Chris and Tina’s ‘erotic odyssey’ gradually goes Greek tragedy, leaving behind a trail of gratuitous havoc directed against Daily Mail readers and any others perceived as a temporary nuisance.

In terms of sentimental journeys, Ben Wheatley’s third film is destined for cult status for featuring a different type of serial killer to those in his earlier, award-winning Down Terrace (as well as Kill List). Chris and Tina are not professionals, so killing is not a self-serving end but a catalyst for the discovery and fulfillment of some very basic instincts. This is a sentimental process. It’s just that the sentiments involved happen to be roused by experiences normally beyond the pale of civilised behaviour. Set against an increasingly wild (and unchecked) landscape, written and acted by Alice Lowe and Steve Oram with a humour that’s likely to redefine black, Sightseers justifies a reappraisal, possibly even an entirely new definition, of concepts such as tenderness, sadness and nostalgia.

Sightseers | Directed by Ben Wheatley (UK 2012) with Alice Lowe and Steve Oram. Starts February 28