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film fatales #41: morvern callar (lynne ramsay, 2002)

Another intriguing movie from Lynne Ramsay (Ratcatcher, We Need to Talk About Kevin). A common feature of every Ramsay movie I've seen is that I have to turn on the subtitles ... Scottish isn't my best language. I avoided this film for a long time, for the silliest of reasons: the title threw me off. I had no idea what it referred to ... a place, an alien being, what? Imagine my embarrassment when I found within minutes that Morvern Callar was the name of the main character.

She is played by Samantha Morton (Jesus' Son, Minority Report, Mister Lonely), who for the most part gives great performances in movies I don't much like (Minority Report is an exception ... I like that one quite a bit). Unsurprisingly, Morton is excellent in Morvern Callar, and she is the perfect actress for Ramsay, who relies a lot on closeups and a lot less on dialogue. This demands a great deal from her actors ... in this case, Morton has to carry a film that doesn't seem to care much about narrative, and she has to do this without being able to explain everything with dialogue. As noted in the wonderful video Tony Zhou and Taylor Ramos did for the late, great Every Frame a Painting, these are characteristic of Ramsay's work in general. (I link to that video every time I write about Ramsay ... it's that good.) This means Ramsay's movies, at least the ones I've seen, are very specific to her ... she seems to get what she wants on the screen, and leaves it to the audience to get it or not. Often, I dislike such directors ... I admire someone like Terrence Malick, but I don't like watching his movies ... as I once said, the only person who knows what his films mean is Malick, and he’s not telling. But for some reason, I'm willing to go along with Ramsay. I have yet to fall in love with any of her movies, but I've always found them intriguing and worth my time. #243 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don't They list of the top 1000 films of the 21st century.

(Explanation of the Film Fatales Series.)

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