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Morvern Callar
Morvern Callar
Actors: Samantha Morton, Kathleen McDermott, Linda McGuire, Ruby Milton, Dolly Wells
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
R     2003     1hr 37min

Eerie, morbid, yet somehow life-affirming, Morvern Callar stars the superb Samantha Morton (Sweet and Lowdown, Minority Report) as the title character, a young Scottish woman whose boyfriend has just killed himself, leavin...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Samantha Morton, Kathleen McDermott, Linda McGuire, Ruby Milton, Dolly Wells
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Creators: Lynne Ramsay, Andras Hamori, Barbara McKissack, Charles Pattinson, David M. Thompson, Alan Warner, Liana Dognini
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Studio: Lions Gate
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 12/16/2003
Original Release Date: 01/01/2002
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2002
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 37min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 4
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
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Member Movie Reviews

Frank H. from OGDEN, UT
Reviewed on 12/20/2008...
Very strange movie. Agonizingly slow with a pretty much non-existent plot. Acting was Okay but I really felt it was tedious to watch this movie.
3 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

Watching a person
Philippe Ranger | Montreal, Can. | 03/30/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is not the best film ever, and it certainly is going to bore some people. However, it's a remarkable piece of work outside Hollywood's beaten paths. The point is to *show* us a woman, to leave us with a many-colored, personal view of her, simply by close, intelligent observation through the camera. The film does not sacrifice to plot, and it especially does not sacrifice to text. It uses the classical means of film, but scoured of the accommodations films make for those two elements TV has trained us to see as central - story and speech. There is little story - Morvern wakes up on Dec. 24 to find her live-in boyfriend (Tom?) dead by suicide, mourns him privately, then goes out for Christmas eve and explains to her best friend, Lana, that Tom has left for some other country. She later avoids the troubles of dealing with authorities by cutting up the body and burying the parts in the heath outside Glasgow. She then sends Tom's manuscript novel to a publisher, as instructed, but under her own name. The manuscript is accepted, and she takes the money Tom had left for his funeral to go with Lana on a late-winter vacation in Spain. By keeping her mouth shut at the right moments, she manages to get a hundred-thousand-pound advance for the novel. She finds the check in the mail when she comes back home. She immediately sets out on another trip outside the UK (we don't know where), with no intention of coming back. Lana refuses to come, so we leave Morvern alone waiting for the train out of Glasgow. Of course she knows that all the publisher will get for its money is the manuscript it already has. There will me no rewrites, no proof corrections, no interviews and no next novel. Better be out of reach.There is even less talk (that can be understood) - When not at work Morvern lives by emotions, and finds them in party environments. Most speech is drowned by the noise, and what comes through is the kind of short phrases you'd exchange in passing during such a party - except that a lot of it will be lost on you if you're not Glaswegian. The film aims a joke at viewers that illuminates the theme. Lana says "pal" is a synonym for "neighbor". Much later, in Spain, she sets out to reveal to Morvern that she slept with Tom while he lived with Morvern: "We were pals." While she's trying to clarify, Morvern tries to cut her off: "Tom is dead." Of course, Lana understands: "That's all water under the bridge". File under Important Communications with Best Friend.What you're left with (as exemplified by other reports here) is a feeling for who Morvern is. I was especially struck by her capacity to find her footing and her simple, unemotional, determination when she has a goal in mind. The word that came to mind was "survivor", but *not* in the sense of "survivor to the suicide of her boyfriend". How did I come to feel this? By watching Morvern, and that's the whole point of Ramsay's method. You get a lot for your 97 minutes of viewing, but it's not plot and it's not talk. It's a person."
"Lost in the middle of nowhere."
Mary Whipple | New England | 11/26/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Winner of awards for Best Actress (for both Samantha Morton and Kathleen McDermott in different competitions), Best Direction (Lynne Ramsay), and Best Cinematography (Alwin Kuchler) at film festivals from Cannes to Bratislava, Morvern Callar is a strange, haunting picture of alienated youth with few goals and even fewer opportunities. From the outset Morvern Callar (Samantha Morton) is passive and emotionally frozen. Waking up Christmas morning, she discovers her boyfriend dead beside her, a suicide, but she ignores the body, puts on her makeup and goes out to a party, where she drinks, dances, goes to bed with two people, participates in nude snowball-throwing, and tells her friend Lanna (Kathleen McDermott) that her boyfriend has "gone to another country."

He has left behind Christmas presents, recorded music, a message of love, and a just-completed novel, asking her to send it to a publisher. Changing his name to her own on the manuscript, she sends it off. She then disposes of the body, cleans the apartment, and invites her girlfriend Lanna (Kathleen McDermott) over to spend the night. Her boyfriend's "funeral money" buys tickets to Spain for a vacation with Lanna, a fellow employee in the meat room of a local supermarket. The surprising, immediate sale of his manuscript gives her additional money to travel wherever she wants in Spain, seeking action at the beach, parties with other young people, and sensual pleasure.

With some scenes filmed with a handheld camera, the film has the tone of a home movie, giving it remarkable verisimilitude. The action and the characters feel real--human--and the mumbling voices and sometimes incomprehensible accents keep the film low-key and even more realistic. The cinematography (Alwin Kuchler) is brilliant, with dramatic scenes showing stark light and dark contrasts--backlit empty halls, bleak snowfalls, staircases appearing to go nowhere, flashing lights freeze-framing action, and vast, empty expanses contrasting with frantic activity--the cinematography emphasizing the emptiness of the characters' lives and their bleak prospects. The loud, sometimes jazzy score further emphasizes their alienation.

Morton makes a compelling, emotionally dissociated Movern Callar, conveying her reckless search for excitement and her slowly developing need for peace. McDermott as Lanna is even more frenetic and uninhibited, and there is never a sense that either of these actresses is acting. The director's touch is light, giving the actors leeway to explore their roles, which they do boldly but with a touching poignancy. R-rated for good reason, the film succeeds in capturing a seldom-featured segment of youthful society, presenting the constant search for pleasure as a way to escape the pain. Mary Whipple
Morvern's Not Amoral, She's Scottish
Philippe Ranger | 10/21/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Many people might not understand Lynn Ramsay's beautiful cinematic adaptation of Alan Warner's novel Morvern Callar because they have not read the novel. Of course many people who read the novel misunderstood Morvern, as well. In a cold port town in Scotland, Morvern is faced with a life that is void of hope and comfort. Instead of bitching about it, she turns inward to music and films. When her boyfriend committs suicide on Christmas Eve, Morvern finds herself faced with letting the outside world know of her pain or hiding it from them. Disposing of his body is her way of keeping the secret, possibly even repressing her own pain. She further escapes to warmer climes, raves, and the closeness of another hurting human body. Just as in Scotland, Morvern finds herself only able to relate to the land and the music of Spain. Although she is physically close with the sweaty bodies during the rave scenes, she is metaphorically distant and unable to relate. The soundtrack captures this brilliantly with the juxtaposition of "while I'm far away from you my baby" over the psychodelic rave scene.After Ratcatcher, I could think of no better person to adapt this groundbreaking novel than Lynne Ramsay.It's simply brilliant."