Morvern Callar

on December 20, 2002 by Chris Wiegand
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Lynne Ramsay's follow-up to the haunting and much heralded "Ratcatcher" boasts an edgy prologue, executed with expert attention to detail. A man and a woman lie on the floor of a dark apartment under the flicker of faltering Christmas tree lights. In the corner of the room, a computer screen reveals a message: "read me." The woman is Morvern Callar, a 21-year-old checkout girl. The man is her boyfriend--or was, for on closer inspection it appears he's slit his wrists.

Morvern is left alone for the New Year with her deceased lover's last tokens of affection--a cash card, a compilation tape and a novel that he wrote for her, as well as the address of a potential publisher. So Morvern withdraws some money, slots the tape into her Walkman and sends off the manuscript, replacing his name with hers. She heads off to Spain and an offer soon follows that may afford her a new life.

In the ambitious yet frustratingly uneven "Morvern Callar", Ramsay succeeds primarily with her typical blend of unsettling atmospherics, delivering a series of abrasive, stylized sequences that burn themselves upon the viewer's memory. A house party, a night of drugged-up clubbing and a long day at work each has the capacity to become truly horrific here, thanks in part to some inventive camera angles and the use of numerous potent locations. The unsavory interiors of Morvern's dingy apartment, an antiseptic supermarket and the lurid clubs of southern Spain are all dramatically married to an eclectic slew of tunes from the likes of Can, Ween and The Velvet Underground.

Adapted from Alan Warner's sprawling novel of the same name, this inventive picture features strong supporting turns from several non-actors, among them Kathleen McDermott as Lanna. The inimitable Samantha Morton ("Jesus' Son") excels as the ultimately unfathomable Morvern, who displays both startling pragmatism and steady defiance in the face of tragedy. Starring Samantha Morton, Kathleen McDermott, Raife Patrick Burchell and Carolyn Calder. Directed by Lynne Ramsay. Written by Lynne Ramsay and Liana Dognini. Produced by Robyn Slovo, Charles Pattinson and George Faber. A Cowboy release. Drama. Not yet rated. Running time: 97 min

Tags: Starring Samantha Morton, Kathleen McDermott, Raife Patrick Burchell and Carolyn Calder. Directed by Lynne Ramsay. Written by Lynne Ramsay and Liana Dognini, Produced by Robyn Slovo, Charles Pattinson, George Faber, Cowboy release, Drama
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