RATCATCHER

Written and directed by Lynne Ramsay. UK. 1999. (15)
Released on video by Pathe Home Entertainment on March 19, 2001. £14.99. Cat. No. P8969W.


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James Gillespie (William Eadie) a ratcatcher?The video sleeve quotes that this is a 'dreamy, visually striking, evocative and moving' film by newcomer Lynne Ramsay. The adjectives are correct but fail to say that this is also a very depressing film.
A brief synopsis of the story shows what territory we are entering: It is set on a Glasgow housing estate that is patrolled by teenage bullies who take their 'pleasure' from a 14-year-old girl. For good measure the action takes place in the 1970s during a dustbin strike, and the main protagonist, James Gillespie (William Eadie) is haunted by the drowning of his friend in a nearby canal. Rays of hope are provided by his growing relationship with Margaret Anne (Leanne Mullen) and the possibility of moving to a new home in the countryside.
William Eadie and Leanne Mullen, along with the rest of the young cast, show the raw brutality and sensitivity of teenage existence. The camera 'watches' the action from a distance, making us feel like we are visiting the past to observe James' private life at that moment in time.
All this escape to a beautifully pictured countryside is romantic and avoids dealing with any real issues, but a film that has a rat flying to the moon can't be all bad.
Nigel Watson
Click here for a more enthusiastic review by Jaap Mees.
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Material Copyright © 2001 Nigel Watson