Amid the Civil War in 17th-century England, a group of deserters flee from battle through an overgrown field. Captured by an alchemist, the men are forced to help him search to find a hidden treasure that he believes is buried in the field.
Nearly a year after a botched job, a hitman takes a new assignment with the promise of a big payoff for three killings. What starts off as an easy task soon unravels, sending the killer into the heart of darkness.
Fleeing for their lives, a small party abandon their Civil War confederates and escape through an overgrown field. Thinking only of what lay behind, they are ambushed by two dangerous men and made to search the field. Psychedelia, madness and chaotic forces slowly overtake the group as they question what treasure lies within the malignant field. Written by
No women appear on screen during the whole film. See more »
You cannot escape the field, Whitehead!
Then I shall become it! I shall consume all the ill fortune which you are set to unleash. I shall chew up all the selfish scheming and ill intentions that men like you force upon men like me, and bury it in the stomach of this place!
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Something of a muddle at the end of the day, one which doesn't quite come off
Well, views about A Field In England range from the admiring with one IMDb reviewer claiming it depicts 'the failure of the modern day class struggle and the easy triumph of liberal capitalism over working class indifference', another seeing it as an allegory with O'Neill the necromancer as the arrogant Charles I and Whitehead, the coward who finds his balls as Oliver Cromwell.
Yet others claim it is a self-indulgent waste of time, nicely acted perhaps and a minimum of resources put to good use, but all to very little end. Me, I am prepared to accept that director Ben Wheatley and screenwriter Amy Jump have an idea as to what they were doing, but yours truly was left guessing.
That isn't to say the film doesn't have its attractions: I did, after all, bother to watch all 90 minutes (and I am prone to give up on films which don't really strike me as worth my time, The Fifth Element recently being one on which I called time long, long before the final curtain). It is well enough made to be intriguing, but I do feel Wheatley and Jump took rather too many liberties.
I see the relationship between the artist and 'her/his public' as one similar between a host and her/his guest: both have privileges and responsibilities, and as in all good relationships it is a matter of give and take between equals.
So we are obliged to give Wheatley the benefit of doubt and hang on in there when we are most at sea in the hope that it will, in some way, pretty much all come together when the film is seen as a whole. I don't mean, crassly, that there should be some resolution with all loose ends tied up: what 'whole' Wheatley (or any artist) wants to serve up is entirely up to him.
Wheatley, on the other hand, has a duty to give us something to go on. What that something is is also entirely up to him. And this is where I feel Wheatley has come unstuck: we get striking images and odd direction and a hint at this and that but unless Wheatley merely wants to make a film in the manner of the surrealists of 90 years ago, there should be that ingredient X for the reasonably intelligent viewer to latch onto. Well, I'm buggered if I know what it is or whether Wheatley has provided one. So for me Wheatley has failed at the final lap.
A Field In England is entertaining enough - and I don't mean 'entertainment' in the 'showbiz' sense, but more that one might 'entertain' and idea, but Wheatley has got to hone his talent rather more if he really wants to evolve into a director of note. At the moment he strikes me as still paddling in the shallow end.
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