Movie Review: A Field in England

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And once again, I find myself at a crossroads.  Did I just watch a movie that’s so brilliant that my brain simply couldn’t put it together properly, or did I just watch a living crayon drawing by a lunatic who thinks the moon is about to crash into the Earth?

Shot in black and white cinematography with a very low budget (I assume), A Field in England is about a pair of British dudes running away from a battle in the 1600’s, who then get captured by two guys who are leading them to an outpost.  Then they run into an Irish guy who may or may not be a ghost or the devil or something, and he forces them all to search for treasure.  While hungry for a meal, they come across a patch of (hallucinogenic) mushrooms, which look pretty delicious to them.  Then things start to get a little freaky.

As a warning, you will have to sit through a really uneventful 25 minutes before they actually eat the mushrooms, but it has a few decent moments of dry British humor in the beginning.  Still, it doesn’t get decent until the second act, and doesn’t even get remotely good until the third act; if “good” is the right word.  I think “more entertaining than five minutes ago” is more appropriate.  Let’s just say that I’m not entirely sure if the treasure the characters are forced to spend the movie digging for is *literally* friendship?  I tried to follow along with the story of this movie the best my brain would allow, and I have no idea how it ended.  Or why it would have ended the way it did.  Or why the characters were even doing what they were doing.  If you put a gun to my head and asked me how the plot of this movie got resolved I would be like “Uhhhhh, welllll…  [lights bottle rocket] [does 10 minute Irish jig] [craps my pants twice] [rides an oversized pig in circles until it passes out]”

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I may just be a dunce, but the overall point of his movie went way over my head.  It didn’t help that it was kind of testing my patience, and I had to watch it in three chunks.  This is the kind of project I could see someone more poetic than I calling one of their new favorite films and discussing the thematic duality of human power that the characters struggle over with the godlike presence that haunts the field, while I just go “Daaahhhh, I like the part when the camera does mirror effects!”   Or maybe…  Just maaaaaybe… This movie doesn’t make any fucking sense to begin with…?  Hmmmmm..?

It does, however, have a moderately cool final 30 minutes that I wouldn’t recommend watching if you have epilepsy issues.  There’s some great visual tricks and gnarly sound design going on (and a surprising restraint to burst into color).  Too bad that it couldn’t keep that level of craziness consistently throughout.  Though, that probably wouldn’t have helped many of the film’s coherency problems.  A lot of times while watching it, I felt like this movie wasn’t really suited for a feature-length treatment, but it might have made for a classic short.  As it stands now, it’s just a goofy knock off of something that probably should have fallen into Terry Gilliam’s (more capable) hands.  But at least it’s original, I’ll give it that much.

With a premise like “Old timey soldiers eat mushrooms and trip balls on a battlefield”, I was just kind of hoping for more, I guess.  Was that too much to ask?  This kind of felt like a nothing movie.  A nothing movie that I could totally see an Anglophile quasi-intellectual junior year film student-type losing their shit over (sadly).  I’ve always thought that just because a movie is random, it doesn’t make it valuable for interpretation.  Good luck solving a jigsaw puzzle that has two dozen missing pieces, and half of what you do have are soaked in coffee and crumpled up by a crazy person.

As a sober guy with a normal attention span:  5 out of 10

If I was able to eat one of those mushrooms from the movie:  PuRple WINdowPaNe OuT oF BootSTRAPS!

 

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