A young woman lays next to a shirt less man. A bunch of Christmas lights blink on and off. The shirtless man is laying face down and not moving. However the woman blinks. And then she sits up. She looks over at the body and the camera shows a pool of blood that has collected under the body’s wrist. The lights keep blinking on and off, on and off. The woman gets up slowly as if she is coming out of a dream.
This is how the somber and yet enlightening Morvern Callar starts. The man on the floor is Morvern Callar’s (yes that is the young woman’s name and she is played so wonderfully by Samantha Morton) boyfriend. This opening scene is the end of something that she had known for a while (the relationship seemed serious but not quite to the point of marriage) and the start of something new. But what is she going to do now that she is alone? She is going to take her own life in her hands and enjoy it for once in her life. She takes the money her boyfriend had set aside for a funeral and buys a trip to Spain for her and her best friend. She erases her boyfriend’s name on a manuscript, writes her own and then submits it to publishers. She decides that she is going to be as drunken, as aimless and as free as her previous life wasn’t. But she can’t quite let go of her boyfriend. His music, his tastes even his manuscript come back to haunt her. It is a constant struggle for Morvern to be free, to be without any constraints.
Lynne Ramsay came from the area that she is depicting and had as little money as Morvern and her best friend had. She understands how hard it is to get and hold onto money. How much the lack of money limits your choices. You are forced to perform a service that you don’t want to do, waste your life toiling away for very little. And if a man can come along that has slightly more money than you do and you are able to attach yourself to him in some way it is even harder to get away or break free from if you rely on his station in life to get by. I feel like this was Morvern’s life before the movie started. That is why she has such a hard time completely letting go, but at the same time she sees this as her only chance. You may judge her for being seemingly cruel to her dead boyfriend, but she is doing it out of necessity. The necessity she feels to start her life all over again.
Samantha Morton may be my new favorite actress. Her performance in this film revealed such vulnerability and inner strength that would have been lost had anyone else played the part. The emotions she goes through are so complex and yet so simply read on her face. She is quite amazing in this role.
This was a movie that stuck with me for days afterward. I am positive this review does not do it justice to the ideas, dialogue, performances and images that left such undeniable impression on my brain. If only every movie could be this good, this thought-provoking…