Thursday, 22 May 2014

A Field In England (2013)

A Field In England, Trailer

Director: Ben Wheatley
Cast: Reece Shearsmith, Michael Smiley, Julian Barratt, Peter Fernandino, Richard Glover
Genre: Drama, Horror
Runtime: 1hr 30mins
Rating: 8/10

Synopsis: Set during the English Civil War, a group of disparate men flee battle in the West Country and agree to accompany each other until each one reaches their desired destination. Three are soldiers and one is a man of books and the sciences, when they encounter ruthless Irishman, O'Neil, he demands they become subservient to him due to his superior social standing, and orders them to assist him in discovering buried treasure in the field. What follows is a demented and disturbing trip into another world formed out of the horrors of war, psychedelic mushrooms and black magic.

To say A Field In England is one of the strangest films I've ever seen would be an understatement. Some of the imagery and scenes were genuinely disturbing, not in a violent way, but more so in terms of how the characters were manipulated into reaching the ugly depths of their souls. Watching what is seemingly a jovial if mismatched group of men turn into mindless, lifeless animals was fascinating but hard to watch. Director Ben Wheatley, and writer Amy Jump, have created a film that seduces you with it's beautiful shots of nature in the English countryside before injecting itself under your skin and crawling uncomfortably around your entire body and brain.

I'm going to have to hold my hand up and say for parts of the film I didn't have a clue what was going on in a metaphorical sense, reading other reviews of the film filled in a few gaps, but one thing you can be sure of from the start is that the men had entered another realm, and this was very effective and powerful. As the group pass through a thick hedgerow and leave the battlefield behind them, they have before them a peaceful, almost idyllic meadow. It is here where they will cross-over in many senses of the term, you feel as though nothing and no one exists outside this field, as if a dome has been placed over it, with the hedgerows and trees at it's borders marking the ends of the Earth.

A Field In England is very different to Wheatley's other recent films, comedy Sightseers (2012) and crime thriller, Kill List (2011), while he has a tendency toward dark themes in both, here we have something far beyond that. Sometimes great films aren't just about being entertained, they should also shock you and make you acknowledge fears and feelings which will only become dormant if not ruffled every now and again, this is one of those films, beautifully shot and a sensory assault you won't forget for a long time after.

I suffer from extreme anxiety, should I watch this on a Sunday night? Please read the review again.

Note: Thanks to Stephen for recommending the film, and for not warning me!

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