“When I go to the cinema, I want to have a cinematic experience. Some people ignore the sound and you end up seeing something you might see on television and it doesn’t explore the form. Sound is the other picture. When you show people a rough cut without the sound mix they are often really surprised. Sound creates a completely new world.” — Lynne Ramsay
It’s Lynne Ramsay’s birthday today.
In a better world, this fascinating complicated director would have a larger body of work. But she is independent, fiercely so, and she develops her own projects. It’s my kind of work, she’s interested in the darker side of things, the ambiguities, the wordless and sometimes incomprehensible (to outsiders, that is) response to crisis. The opening sequence of her 2002 film Morvern Callar is a case in point. I saw that one in the theatre, and I was stunned by it (I hadn’t seen Ratcatcher. I went into Morvern Callar pretty much cold). The opening sequence is just astonishing – but what is even more astonishing is what happens after, what Morvern (the brilliant Samantha Morton) does AFTER that opening scene. You keep waiting for an “appropriate” response from her, and it never comes. Social norms are a very thin veneer indeed, and mostly for people who can easily fit into its little boxes. John Cassavetes’ films – although they take place in a very different landscape, and exist on a very different wavelength than Ramsay’s films – exist too in that netherworld where social norms just seem insane, or at the very least, so far away as to be irrelevant. Sane people watch Faces and think, exasperated, “These people all need to go home, take a long bath, and get a good night’s sleep.” Yup! But that’s first of all not interesting or dramatic, and second of all, beneath the “appropriate” veneer is a vast swirling chaos, of impulses we can barely control, of pain we can’t face, of the things we do to just shut up and endure. This is Lynne Ramsay’s wheelhouse.
I look forward to every single new film she does. I feel a bolt of excitement when I hear she’s got a new one coming down the pike.
We Need to Talk About Kevin
You Were Never Really Here
A couple years back, she made headlines walking off a film she had helped develop. She looked around, realized the producers wanted her to change things, wanted a happy ending (fuck these people and their happy endings) … and finally just figured out, “Oh. They actually don’t want me to be making this film for them.” Ramsay is not – never – ever – a “hired hand”. So she walked off, with no notice. People were outraged, how dare she, etc. I really love this interview with her – not just about that situation, but about her career in general.
I reviewed the thriller (?) – Ramsay-style anyway – You Were Never Really Here, starring Joaquin Phoenix for Ebert. Loved it. Definitely check it out.