Made in Britain Special: A Field in England (preview)
Tonight sees a new development in the way films are distributed. Ben Wheatley’s new effort, A Field in England is the first film to be simultaneously released on DVD/ Blu, in the Cinema and shown on Television. Albeit on Film4.
I’m actually really excited by this one. There’s a Matthew Hopkins vibe to the poster and Wheatley is so far on a 100% hit rate with me (even if that is a bit wobbly).
As such, I’m definitely home watching this one. It promises to be a frightening psychedelic trip set in one of this island’s more grim periods of history. The cast is again really good with Reece Shearsmith joined by Wheatley regular Michael Smiley, and the film has been racking up glowing reviews from our media, with the Torygraph going all out with a 5* review.
Furthermore, Wheatley is one of the most interesting directors in the UK at the moment, and so far his work has crossed a number of genres. If there’s one word that I’d use to describe his style, then it’s “assured”, but even at his most wobbly (Sightseers), he’s still got to be worth a look.
I’ve reviewed all of his films so far, so I’m taking this opportunity to have a quick look back at them.
Firstly, he blew onto the scene in 2009 with the mostly overlooked Down Terrace. A gripping combination of gangster movie and misery porn made on a shoestring, Down Terrace was stunningly acted, well written and directed with real assurance for a début film. All the signs were there that this was potentially the next Shane Meadows, which is no bad thing.
Definitely worth a watch, but really there little indication of what was to come.
As with Neil Marshall, who debuted with the excellent Dog Soldiers and then followed it with the stupendous The Descent, Wheatley’s sophomore effort after his low-key debut was the phenomenal Kill List. I rated this as the best film of the year when I saw it- a grubby and viscerally powerful combination of the Wicker Man and the legion of British Kitchen Sink Crime Dramas out there. With a cast including Myana Buring, and Michael Smiley putting in lifetime best performances, Kill List remains the only film that I’ve ever seen that made Mrs. Jarv cry from fear in the cinema. That’s impressive by any standards.
Wheatley’s follow-up to Kill List was, in contrast, mildly disappointing. Although to be honest nothing he could have done could have measured up to the previous film. Nevertheless, Sightseers, with a script by Steve Oram and Alice Lowe had a sparkling first half (well, for me) before coming off the rails a tad in the second. A black as midnight comedy, following a pair of psychotic ramblers, Sightseers certainly had its moments, even if it did, somewhat feel like a step back for the director.
Hell, I liked it anyway, even if I do have reservations.
And now, tonight, July 5th at 10.45pm comes A Field in England. I’m hoping that he’s back on Kill List form, but I have no doubt that the little £300,000 movie will, at the very least, not be 2 hours of my life wasted.
Here’s the trailer (which I haven’t watched because I’m going for unspoiled for this one):
See you tomorrow for the aftermath…