Morvern Callar Movie Review

Let's start with the obvious question: Morvern Callar is the name of a character. The name of a girl, actually. And not in a Lord of the Rings movie.

No, Morvern Callar is a modern-day psychodrama, starring Samantha Morton (never known for picking traditional roles -- Minority Report, Sweet and Lowdown) as the titular Morvern, a Scottish girl who comes to terms with her boyfriend's suicide by simply ignoring the body that's rotting in the hall. Tasked with instructions to use the money in his bank account for a funeral and send his novel off to a publisher in London, Morvern coldly decides to hack up the body and bury it in the moors, use the money for a trip to Spain for her and her pal Lanna (Kathleen McDermott), and sends the novel to a publisher -- under her own name.

Morvern Callar isn't so much about Morvern's callous activities as it is her ambivalence towards it all. Recalling quiet freak-outs like L'Avventura and Repulsion, Morvern doesn't hesitate in abandoning Lanna as she sleeps on the side of the road while they're lost in rural Spain. She puts on headphones to cut up the ex and doesn't seem to mind when the blood squirts all over her.

At the same time, Morvern Callar is not gory in the slightest, but it's as disturbing a film as I've seen this year. Director Lynne Ramsay has been down this bleak bleak road before with Ratcatcher, but Morvern Callar is more philosophical in the way its lead character sleepwalks through an exististential nightmare. (Ratcatcher was more an indictment of the plight of the poor; Morvern has chosen to act the way she does.)

Unfortunately, Ramsay hedges her bet with a final act that obviates much of the film before it: Namely, publisher number one wants the novel so badly that they fly to Spain and offer her six figures for it on the spot! (No agent, natch.) It's a totally unbelievable point that both alters the way we think about the character and makes us cease identifying with her at all -- and it was hard to do that to begin with.


Morvern Callar Rating

" Good "

Rating: NR, 2002


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