Sightseers is Perfect.
Shockingly violent and derisively funny, the satire in Sightseers isn’t in its send up of ‘average killers on holiday’, but in making you sympathise with a couple of homicidal sociopaths. More than that, the film speaks of human dysfunction at a primordial level, where miscommunication is our only form of communication, a dynamic that always culminates in bloody results. A call to arms for social etiquette, an incisive take on fledgling romance, a commentary on human hubris and folly and a fucking hilarious romp – Sightseers is brilliant. Never has morbid humour found such an insightful and gleefully clever voice than in writers and stars Steve Oram and Alice Lowe. Where other films of the same ilk collapse under the weight of violence due to poor characterisation and a lack of finesse, Lowe and Oram’s Tina and Chris have a depth capable of justifying their unabashed glee in caving tourists’ faces in. Their characters are in a constant state of regression - what started with humour and flirtation ends in sexual frustration and romantic dissonance and the victims of the fallout are the unlucky travellers surrounding them. In a twisted sense, the victims are the ones culpable for their own deaths – Tina and Chris only murder those who they deemed to have wronged them in some way. Whether its in outright rudeness, backhanded insults or in self-righteous chastising – these people bring about their own demise by projecting their values onto the protagonists. Ultimately director Ben Wheatley, Oram and Lowe postulate on the hopelessness of love and art in an age where social dysfunction and the incapability of communication rule. Which is ironic, seeing as the film communicates these ideas so deftly.
I’d go so far as to call this a perfect film. Which, by and large, is going to be seen as some radical thing to do. Forevermore I’ll be the guy who called Sightseers flawless. All of my scribblings that follow will be coloured with your distaste at my doing so. Labelling the ‘perfect film’, then, is like exposing yourself or showing your hand. People treat the term with guarded anxiety; worried that to do so would open you up to judgment. A perfect film is completely subjective and in this cruel and archaic system, it is open to scrutiny and criticism, like your taste in music or books. It’s as though this confession would reveal something about your personality, define you in some broader sense. Should it be this way? If you class The Shawshank Redemption as the perfect film, are you intellectually superior to someone who calls Horrible Bosses perfect? The practice of rating and reviewing films is arbitrary if there is fear incumbent in being completely honest about your taste. Terms like ‘guilty pleasure’ and ‘my favourite (insert genre) film’ are pointless. To class the quality of a film based on its industrial elements is to debase it. The best films defy simple classification. Could you truly pigeonhole a film like The Godfather? OrPulp Fiction? It doesn’t matter if the perfect film is an action, horror, sci-fi, or – in the critical consensus on Sightseers – a ‘dark comedy’. It only matters that you enjoyed every second of it.
There you have it: Sightseers is a perfect film.