Mariel's Reviews > Morvern Callar

Morvern Callar by Alan Warner
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Mar 23, 2011

really liked it
Recommended to Mariel by: run run run
Recommended for: I'll be your mirror
Read in April, 2002

The film version of Alan Warner's Morvern Callar is one of my most loved favorites (the leading actress, Samantha Morton, is my favorite actress ever). The film is better than the book. The choice of first person narrative in Warner's book does not work as well to convey the connections and disconnections of Morvern. It's not just the constant mentions of nail painting in the book (what was that? an effort to sound feminine?) that didn't work to reveal or conceal anything. Morton is my favorite actress because of her ability to express what is inside her head and heart, something Warner's writing couldn't quite reach in its empty white lines and between spaces diary writing. Morvern is an orphan like Morton herself kinda was. I don't think that fact is an important one, but I do feel that the way that she watches everyone is. I know exactly why they do that because I had to do it too. You watch for those subtle changes in moods because you have to know when to get the hell out of there. Morvern being alone makes sense to me that she does it too. It's like trying to find some kind of anchor. Morton's acting showed how Morvern saw the world around her, even as she couldn't always process what those thoughts and feelings were. Maybe it's because of how I process things myself. I find that I watch how someone says something more than what the words they use because I'm paranoid about hidden messages I'm probably not getting. Morton is the best because I feel I can read her the way I can only read those I know best in the world.
Morvern wants to find some place beautiful. Lanna (Morvern's friend) thinks one place is the same as anywhere else. I think it's beautiful to watch people in all different places and find the beauty there. It's weird to read goodread reviews that it was fucked up story. Yeah, she does chop up a dead body and hide the parts. I guess I find it fascinating the way that people can disassociate themselves from what is happening... Then they come back from that.
I don't think it was bad that Morvern took her dead boyfriend's novel and passed it off as her own. It was pretty funny, actually, because he meant leaving this great novel as some grand gesture of his life. He crapped out on that life. Morvern deserved better than that. I'm glad she got the money and the credit. The boyfriend also left her with a mixed tape. Yeah, well he didn't write the songs. I loved how Morvern listened to the songs and got what she was gonna get out of them herself (whatever he thought she was supposed to get). I like to think of her listening to her music and looking for something more out of her life. (Another thing the film had going for it: reading a tracklist is nothing on hearing it. I loved this film soundtrack. Boards of Canada, Mama and the Papas, Can, Lee Hazlewood featuring Nancy Sinatra...)
Lynne Ramsay directed and wrote the film screenplay for Morvern Callar. (I also love her film Ratcatcher, and her short films too.) There's something about the way she uses all of her resources to tell a story... Whatever it was that was missing about the book... I don't know if it was because Warner was a man. I mean, it's not really an exclusively female drive, to look for home and love and understanding. I think it was probably that Warner wasn't adept enough at first person narrative to get everything across. Some authors are more than good enough to do it (like Bronte's Jane Eyre. Morton also starred in my favorite version of that, come to think).
(I did read the book first. I don't know why I didn't mention that already. I saw the movie and went "So that was what was missing.".)
I bought Morvern Callar and Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle the same day in 2002. My twin wanted to read 'Castle' first so I read Morvern. Anything else that happened that day (that week or month) I can't remember. Books are my life pretty much.
Thanks to Eh I know about the web archive site and could look up my old *coughs* (Dork!) Samantha Morton fansite from when I was in my early twenties. No one else had pictures of my favorite Morvern Callar scenes but me. Now I grabbed them again yay *coughs* (Dork!).

Goodreads authors might not sympathize. I totally think she should have taken credit for that book.

The watching the ants and burying a dismembered body of evidence scene.

She's being abandoned (again) and time still stops... (I related to this film too much, maybe.)
What, no music scenes? That's every day.
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Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly Aha, we have the same rating! And you have a twin! I wonder, do twins have the same taste in books?

I've never heard of Samantha Morton. Maybe she's not hollywood? I'll see if my wife can download this movie somewhere from the web.


Mariel My twin has excellent taste. She is on goodreads.

The film is Scottish and Morton is English. She has been nominated for the oscars twice,despite not being Hollywood.


Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly and the movie's title is also morvern callar?


Mariel Yes. It came out in 2002. Lynne Ramsay directed it. I like her short films and her feature Ratcatcher very much.


Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly never heard of that director also. I hope I can find a copy. Very much interested how it came out in the movie


Shovelmonkey1 I didn't know this was a film! but then I apparently miss all films. May well go and seek this out. I read the book and liked it, but in a different way to you.


message 7: by Geoff (new)

Geoff Both this and Ratcatcher are PHENOMENAL movies. I watched them back to back a couple of years ago. Strangely, I didn't really realize Morvern Callar was a book. Stupid me. Anyway, great review!


message 8: by Nate D (new)

Nate D Our last good local video shop just closed, tragically, but I was able to salvage a copy of Ratcatcher (and far too many other films) from the closing sale. Lynne Ramsay is fantastic for sure. I should really get around to seeing Morvern Callar finally.


message 9: by Geoff (new)

Geoff Nate wrote: "Our last good local video shop just closed, tragically, but I was able to salvage a copy of Ratcatcher (and far too many other films) from the closing sale. Lynne Ramsay is fantastic for sure. I sh..."

Ratcatcher is pretty perfect. I need to rewatch both of these. I also didn't realize that she directed We Need To Talk About Kevin! Holy shit! Now I have to see that...


message 10: by Nate D (new)

Nate D Whoa! I had no idea either. It was, what, 9 years between features? I'm glad she's back.


message 11: by Simone (new) - added it

Simone I love the personal quality of your review, and what you say resonates with my reading of the book so far (halfway through).


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