A scattered gang of knuckleheads flee their Civil War duties and band together on a journey of their own through the opening fields of England. The three of them run into O'Neil, an armed and dangerous alchemist - a person one of them was already looking for. Their journey over the fields is soon overtaken by a descent into madness and hallucinations.
I realize I'm in the minority when it comes to Ben Wheatley's 2011 title, "Kill List" - I simply didn't care for it. When it was time for "A Field in England" I was certainly keeping that in mind, as any strongly opinionated man would. I had not seen "Sightseers" or anything else from him, so my reference was simply the disappointing "Kill List". To say that "A Field in England" is a different movie from "Kill List" is a true as it is false, seeing as they are both very deceiving - but with "A Field in England" I felt it was a joyous decievement and only silly when it aimed for it intentionally.
Four seperate soldiers, a real bunch of misfits, from the dumb to the pretentiously educated, escape in the middle of the Civil War. They don't necessarily take liking to each other, but they decide to continue their escape and/or journey over the many fields ahead together. One of the men, Whitehead, has been on the look out for an alchemist to arrest. This man, O'Neil, soon shows up and becomes part of this witless gang, but not as a friend, but as their master. He's the mad, armed and angry leader and they have to do what they can to survive in his power. When mushrooms and madness comes into the picture, this drama grows into something a lot more loose-ended.
The thing that made "A Field in England" work for me was the comedy and overall happy energy the movie has. It has some dark elements, sure, but it plays as a drama more like a Shakespearean play does. That's not to say it shares a lot else with that British writer, though "A Field in England" is a very British affair in both characters and attitude. The comedy that runs through the movie also works well with its trippy parts, where they come together is a nice contrast of the funny and the bizarre. So while the movie often appears empty and shallow in what everything leads to, I think the journey itself is what is worth the time here. It's not a perfect, life-changing arthouse movie, but if it can at least be seen as an entertaining twist on a war picture, then I think it did its job.
Certainly the visuals, the editing and the overall psychadelic effects used to achieve the trippier moments are among the most memorable moments in "A Field in England", but they're also what offers some of the weaker moments. I have personally never been able to appreciate the mirror effect, and that's definitely one of the effects they resorted to in these scenes. It made one of the later, longer sequences fall a bit in my eyes. If it can be appreciated by someone who doesn't see the mirror effect as cheap, then great!
I won't dig much deeper in "A Field in England". It's a fun, psychadelic and sometimes uncomfortable movie, but it lacks in delivering a message. Which I don't mind in this case. It's a very visual experience and often very beautiful, but somewhat repetive too - which could be due to the locations. I enjoyed this a ton more than I did "Kill List", and I'm quite surprised I did as I expected something much less. I think this seems like a reasonable recommendation for the average Film Bizarro reader - some will want more out of it, some will find just enough. Overall it was a very pleasant, odd surprise for me.