Better late than never I suppose. I finally got round to watching Ben Wheatley‘s latest movie, A Field In England, which was released simultaneously in cinemas, on TV, VOD, Blu-Ray and DVD. It won’t be everybody’s cup of tea (just read Catherine Shoard’s review from the Observer), but I believe it’s important to be able to experience films like this. This is “Cinema as Art”.
A small budget, single location production, it is presented in black and white, but one would posit that this is not due to budgetary constraints. Set during the English Civil War, circa 1650, we are shown a series of events that take place between a group of five individuals within the titular Field. I would describe it as a series of events due to the somewhat episodic nature of the presentation, made so with the use of a cut-away to black screen device employed throughout the film’s running time. That is not to say the events shown thusly do not bear relation to the preceding sequence, far from it, but it is a device employed nonetheless and not to the detriment of narrative progression.
In all honestly, A Field In England truly defies description, and certainly cannot be pigeonholed. Ben Wheatley is an important filmmaker, whose individual style certainly makes for interesting cinema. As with Kill List (Wheatley’s 2011 release), A Field In England challenges the viewer. Some would call it “utter tosh” or “pretentious bull” but that is really missing the point. I’ll once again refer to Nicolas Winding Refn’s remarks from his recent interview posted on the Daily Telegraph website. “…Being predictable does not interest me. The chief enemy of creativity is being safe, with good taste.” There is no middle ground with Mr Wheatley, you are either interested and engaged by what he has to offer or not. Predictability is not his bag, man – neither does he have a desire for being safe. While these kinds of features will never be enormous commercial successes, they are still successful cinema. Features that push the boundaries. Challenge the viewer. It’s what cinema should be all about.