Bizarre doesn’t even begin to cover A Field in England, I honestly do not know how this film obtained financing, its a period piece spoken in old-english, its shot in black & white, the only recognizable star is Michael Smiley, and the plot revolves around the searching of a malign treasure whilst most of our only cast members are being affected by mushrooms, A Field in England displays originality and incredible talent from director Ben Wheatley who manages to pull this film off. Its truly insane, it starts mid-way through a story of war that is completely abandoned and exchanged for one about psychological torture, class, and maddening behavior. A Field in England abandons any of the traditional norms viewed in films today and goes on its on separate path towards singular triumph.
As I stated before, A Field in England drops you smack down in the middle of a story that about to conclude and then proceeds to go on its frenzied journey. But not only does it drop you in the middle of what seems to be a concluding story-line, it transports you to 1648 AD England, from its costumes to the language used in the film, A Field in England takes you to another dimension where you are left as an observer of the madness about to ensue. The stand-out here being Reece Shearsmith as Whitehead who fully commits to his role, praying in old English, rambling about in an ancestral tongue, capturing the various emotions felt whilst going mad, Shearsmith is truly sensational in this film, especially when pinned against the vile nature of Smiley’s O’Neil. This is film is based on Civil War and drugs, buts that just the background to what is really going on, an violent treasure-hunt and an arising conflict between O’Neil and Whitehead. The Civil War and the mushrooms are actually only used to emphasize prominent themes of the story, the Civil War adding to the aggressive and paranoid nature of our individuals and the drugs add a very interesting visual enactment to the process of going mental.
A Field in England is an exploration of madness, a time-capsule, a battle, a true showcase of talents. From the actors who deliver such veritable performances as Englishmen from a time long gone to Ben Wheatley who somehow manages to keep this film coherent, A Field in England can get a tad too weird at times but serves as a great calling card for director Ben Wheatley, especially with regards to what his next project, Free Fire. A Field in England is a challenging experimental film based on mania, its a rare work of art which a place at an 82 out of 100.