In her first film, 2000ís Ratcatcher, a moody portrait of an adolescent boy growing up in the slums of Glasgow during the 1973 garbage strike, Lynne Ramsay demonstrated a macabre, poetic realism that seemed drawn from personal experience. In Morvern Callar, which is adapted from the novel by Alan Warner, her macabre, poetic surrealism seems calculated, mannered, and pointless. A Christmas tree flashes dejectedly in the corner of the title characterís apartment day and night, providing a silent but unsubtle commentary as Morvern (Samantha Morton) stumbles over her boyfriend lying dead in a pool of blood, a suicide note on his computer. The tree continues to flash as, emotionless, she goes about her daily routine, stepping over the body to heat a pizza and opening the presents under the tree and finally dismembering the stiffening corpse while going topless (but wearing sunglasses) and sipping brandy.
Ironic, perverse, voyeuristic, and cold-blooded, granted ó but can we move on? Morvern does, getting her dead loverís novel published under her own name and using the proceeds to go off on holiday with her best friend, Lanna (Kathleen McDermott), who may have had an affair with the late boyfriend. Those scenes inject the film with its only vestiges of feeling and mystery, as the pairís Spanish excursions dead-end in tawdry accommodations, bad sex, and dread. Earnest but misconceived, Morvern Callar brings to mind Catherine Deneuve and the skinned rabbit in Roman Polanskiís Repulsion, except that the rabbit had more pathos and humanity. (97 minutes)