Fleeing from a battle in the English Civil War a small group of deserters are captured by an Alchemist and forced to aid him in his search for treasure he believes is buried in a nearby field. Crossing a vast mushroom circle, which provides their first meal, the group quickly descends into a chaos of arguments, fighting and paranoia. As it becomes clear that the treasure may be something other than gold, they slowly become victim to the terrifying energies trapped inside the field.
high ambitions should be praised
- A Field in England review by AM
(2) of (2) members found this review helpful.
You rated this film: 4
What would you rather watch? A film that sets its ambitions low (follow a formula, obeys the convention and ticks the demographic boxes) and delivers on this, or a film that aims high (to plough a new furrow, to become this year's cult hit) but ultimately falls short?
A Field in England falls firmly in to the second category. It wants to be Withnail and I, Eraserhead, or even the Blair Witch Project, but ultimately, reminded me far too much of those three films to be a true original. That is its central failing - it doesn't manage to be as good as it wants. But it looks wonderful, holds the attention throughout. Where it fails is possibly due to the acting - to often the humour feels hammed up. This is the style of humour that Withnail sent up (a film I love), and gives the film a derivative feel.
So if your answer to my original question was 'the latter', then watch this film with low expectations for a pleasant surprise.
A Field in England (2013)
- A Field in England review by NP
(1) of (1) members found this review helpful.
You rated this film: 4
I’ve seen this project labelled as ‘pretentious’ by more than one reviewer. I’m not sure that’s fair. And yet it is difficult to find a label for this film at all. It succeeds in being like nothing I’ve ever seen. Is it even a horror? Well, judging by the incredible acting from Reece Shearsmith in one scene alone, I’d say yes.
Shot in black-and-white and financed by Film4, this was released on that television channel at the same time as its cinema release. What really impresses me about this is the incredible acting on display. The cast is made up of names mainly associated with their comedic work, and all are exemplary. Subject to the harsh conditions displayed on camera by director Ben Wheatley (a British talent really making a big impression), his cast were encouraged to improvise to a certain extent, thus producing passionate and organic characters. Shearsmith and Julian Barrett (famous as one half of ‘The Mighty Boosh’ amongst other things) in particular, turn in amazing performances, but everyone involved really rises to the occasion. This is by turn baffling, violent, outrageously funny, frightening and strangely touching.
Some of the whirlwind style of story-telling maybe due to the characters’ indulgence with natural hallucinogens. As a lot of the action appears to be seen from various points of view, this may be the reason why things appear to happen in a non-linear style. Such usage (in this case ‘magic’ mushrooms are consumed in quantity) was often used during the English Civil War, which serves as the setting for this. The wide, open-skied setting becomes an endless, rolling playground – or tomb.
During one scene, the bullying O’Neill character (Michael Smiley) shows the submissive Whitehead (Shearsmith) a vision of death/hell inside a tent, which the audience does not witness. Instead, we get Whitehead’s subsequent reaction – his mind is damaged by the vision, and yet instead of running from the scene, he emerges from the tent with a death-head smile of disturbing serenity on his face. Shown in slow-motion, it is worth seeing ‘A Field in England’ for this startling scene alone – although it is much more effective in the context of this strange and wonderful project.