Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Shock and greed in "Morvern Callar"

I watched a Scottish movie called "Morvern Callar" this weekend. Samantha Morton plays the title character -- a woman who's novelist boyfriend has just committed suicide as the film begins.

Throughout the film, she's forced to make hard decisions. Whether or not your think what she's doing is appropriate or morally correct is up to you -- though she's the heroin of the film, the final verdict is left up the viewer -- has Morvern acted in ways that she could look back on without a sense of guilt? Has she shown the kind of 'self-leadership' and discipline that would inspire others to go above their base instincts for self-preservation?

For instance, instead of telling the authorities of her boyfriend's ill-timed demise, she drags him into the bathtub, chops him up into tiny pieces, then takes his remains up to a remote field and spreads them around. She sends his finished manuscript to a London publisher after naming herself author of the novel. She then takes the money he has set aside for a funeral and uses it to go on a two-week holiday with her best friend to Spain.

The publisher is interested in the manuscript, and gives her $100,000.00 (or pounds, rather) on the spot for it. In the final frames of the film, she is seen waiting for the train, suitcase in hand, presumably onto a better life -- leaving her friend and job and the supermarket behind.

Is Morvern someone acting out due to shock -- or is she someone who is simply opportunistic? Because she has no backstory in the film, her only motivation seems to be greed.

What would anyone else do in this situation? Would you give in to the temptation to take advantage of someone you love when they'll never know the consequences of your actions?


At 2:52 PM, Blogger Simon said...

Wow ... what a black, Scottish movie. Good question, Suze. I think we would all hope to do 'the right thing' in any given situation, but when we hear about cases like this it gives us pause to think ... "Would I ever do that?"

Then as the story progresses, I would be thinking "Wouldn't I be caught sooner or later?"

Personally, I'd think Morvern sounds like someone acting out from the shock. The film actually sounds very film noir - not having any particular lesson to teach, just saying this is life and isn't it weird sometimes?

What were your thoughts?

At 9:54 AM, Blogger Borscht said...


Kind of reminds me of a film called Margaret's Museum that I saw a little while back -- the funny thing about it was the fact that one could never actually imagine Helena Bonham-Carter as someone bad -- and the film build-nicely in that respect.

Backstory is generally for the writer, and not the reader...I mean, there could be the occasional now and again tease as to what the character was all about -- as in HIDALGO --> Turner, Viggo's character -- was actually named Blue Child because of something his mother did -- no spoilers...but as the viewers we don't dwell on it more than necessary.

I think Morton's case: the hacking of the body -- I mean, let's say it was shock...for argument's sake -- but then continuing and cashing in on the creative work -- I'm no psychologist -- but, you can imagine -- I mean...how long does shock last.

Perhaps if there was backstory, the answers do youe great questions would be more pat and 'on the nose.' I think the writer and the director perhaps preferred for that to remain moot - to get people like us to ask more and more questions.

So...until the next great film.

-- AM

p.s. Sime -- noir has to have the femme fatale, the lighting, and you're almost there -- it has the 'you just keep on paying..." element to it -- but Suze, correct me if I'm wrong -- are there 'procedural elements' there as well?

At 5:29 PM, Blogger M@ said...

Okay, I was ready to post a comment on this a week ago, [and then I accidentally hit [esc] and the page-long post disappeared. I wept and gnashed teeth.

Anyhow, here's what I'm thinking, not having seen the movie: what the protagonist did was okay. Suicides make everyone around them the victims; they don't get a moral high ground. If the woman takes advantage of the situation, that's fine with me; it seems more a sign of internal strength in her than cold-heartedness.

Sorry to be two weeks late with this. I said it better before, honest.


Post a Comment

<< Home