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STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
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Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Julian Barratt
Michael Smiley
Reece Shearsmith
richard glover
Peter Ferdinando
Ryan Pope.
Directors
Ben Wheatley.
Screenwriters
Ben Wheatley
Amy Jump.
Running Time
86 minutes

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A Field In England
Uncivil war


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Plot
1648. During the English Civil War, three soldiers (Richard Glover, Peter Ferdinando, Ryan Pope) and a scholar (Reece Shearsmith) find themselves away from a battle in a mysterious field where O’Neil (Michael Smiley), an Irish alchemist, forces them to help him search for a perhaps-magical treasure.


Review
A Field In England

A sense of the macabre, a feel for the English landscape (and the ruination done to it by suburban development) and the eccentric/sinister character stylings of Michael Smiley (one of those you-know-the-face actors who ought to be in everything) are recurrent in the films of the very busy Ben Wheatley, but he isn’t one to stick to any single genre. There’s a clear development in his filmography, but he is admirably uninterested in making the same movie over and over.

The Wheatley oeuvre to date encompasses a domestic gangster movie (Down Terrace), a crime/horror hybrid (Kill List) and a serial-killer comedy of manners (Sightseers). Now, with partner/regular screenwriter Amy Jump, he’s made a period piece (homing in on that fascinating, underfilmed era — the English Civil War) in black and white, which avoids undue expense by being set entirely out of doors in the eponymous patch of countryside. A tough film to synopsise or encapsulate, it evokes classic British horror (obviously ticking off Witchfinder General and Blood On Satan’s Claw as influences), but is closer in tone to a grittier yet still metaphysical brand of arthouse mystification. The heavily symbolist Bergman of The Seventh Seal or the hypnotic Herzog of Heart Of Glass come to mind, while a few tics — black frames between scenes, followed by live-action freezes as the actors pose in tableau — could be from the weirder elements of German silent cinema.

Less approachable than previous Wheatley films, and liable to frustrate those wanting explanations for everything, A Field In England is nevertheless compelling and strange. The characters perform absurd tasks (hauling on a rope to bring a major character into play) or undergo bizarre ordeals (Shearsmith makes a particularly odd transformation under torture), but the nature of the treasure they are after, or even of the field in which they struggle, remains up for post-film debate.
 


Verdict
Very physical, with intense performances and half-serious period talk, it’s an impressive, haunting picture — though the sort of thing you have to meet at least halfway to enjoy.


Reviewed by Kim Newman

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for A Field In England
Empire Star Rating

RE: A Field in England

I can see why other people hated this, but I quite enjoyed it - it doesn't take itself too seriously (how many other films do you get to see one of the leads taking a shit, and then later on having a poultice administered to his 'yard') while at the same time delivering some scenes that are quite troubling - i.e. when we hear Shearsmiths screams while Smiley does God knows what to him in his tent before bounding out like something from a Herzog film. Plotwise it does bounce a bit too m... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Indio at 22:29, 24 August 2014 | Report This Post


SHEEESH........

The serious film critics are all falling over themselves to praise this movie – but there again – most of them never have to actually PAY to see a movie these days as far as I know. Ingmar Bergman this ain’t!!! Mad mushrooms and utter codswallop more like. Ben Wheatley finally disappears UP HIS OWN BACKSIDE shocker!! Pity the poor wretched souls who shelled out hard cash to see this one at the cinema. It’s the closest thing to hell without actually having to go there. O... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ROTGUT at 16:49, 16 November 2013 | Report This Post


A Field in England

A depraved journey into the mind of a demented genius, A Field in England may limit its own appeal as much as possible but is beautifully savage. The Black and White shooting is excellent, the acting naturalistic and the tone, at many points, hypnotically disturbing. What is it about? Not sure really but then again that is part of the point. This is well worth anybodies 90 minutes who wants to have a go at answering that narrative conundrum. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JJB888 at 00:43, 23 August 2013 | Report This Post


RE: A Field In England

Hard to know what to make of it. There were some really arresting, interesting scenes and Wheatley has to be praised for originality and his ability to create real atmosphere and tone. That being said, some of the camera tricks he started to employ towards the end reminded me of a student film maker who's just found all the funky effects on Final Cut Pro. I think Wheatley is one to watch, because at his best he reminds me of David Lynch a great deal. He has a fascination with his own count... More

Posted by TrendMeUp at 20:50, 17 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: A Field In England

This film stanked up the place big time. Whilst watching it I was like 'WTF'. When it ended I is like 'WTF'. I turned to misses but she was asleep so I woke her up and then she was all like 'WTF'. Jack the Ripper's souvenir shelf doesn't smell as bad as this film. Impressive 'yard' though. ... More

Posted by Toby Monroe at 19:32, 13 July 2013 | Report This Post


In the minority I know but..

I just don't get what it is so amazing about this guy. Kill List was great until the final act, this was just bollocks.. in every way ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by chris wootton at 10:04, 12 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: A Field In England

L: MonsterCat L: V.E.N.O.M Any idea if it'll be on FilmFour again anytime soon? /quote] Rent that shit, bro. ave done dude! ... More

Posted by V.E.N.O.M at 16:27, 10 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: A Field In England

Having kinda enjoyed Kill List, and having really enjoyed Sightseers (on second viewing - i was a bit bored on first viewing) I was looking forward to this. I was bored rigid, I simply couldn't get into it at all. I erally wanted to like it, but I struggled to see it through. Honestly, if I hadn't got respect for the films that came before it and Wheatley as an interesting home grown talent, I wouldve turned off after 20/30 minutes. I stuck with it hoping for something to switch and gr... More

Posted by porntrooper at 13:06, 10 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: A Field In England

L: V.E.N.O.M Any idea if it'll be on FilmFour again anytime soon? /quote] Rent that shit, bro. ... More

Posted by MonsterCat at 10:45, 10 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: A Field In England

So f***ing annoyed that I missed this on Friday! Any idea if it'll be on FilmFour again anytime soon? 'm looking forward to the "slow-motion-man-tied-up-with-rope-running-through-a-fi eld scene", pretty creepy apparently... ... More

Posted by V.E.N.O.M at 10:40, 10 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: A Field In England

I saw this on Friday and quite liked it.  Despite it being given away free in most places I elected to be contrary and saw it at the cinema, a decision completely justified by the brash and eerie visuals that Wheatley achieves with skill and aplomb.  (I think you have to acknowledge the "skill" part with some measure of surprise since he has not arguably aimed to be particularly cinematic before).    It's a mad badger of a movie and I think you have to approac... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by demoncleaner at 15:14, 08 July 2013 | Report This Post


Another 2/3 of a good movie?

"and liable to frustrate those wanting explanations for everything" - same again then. Kill List was an outstanding first two thirds with a lazy, hysterical, nonsensical ending lopped on. Down Terrace was similarly let down by a final lopsided act. Not clear to me why a filmmaker should be applauded - by the critics but not yet cinemagoers - for a consistent inability to finish his films off. Certainly looks like Wheatley and Jump never start with the ending and work back! So to rea... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Sambora at 09:12, 02 July 2013 | Report This Post


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