Glasgow, summer, 1973. Dustmen are striking; bags of garbage add to the blight of council flats and a fetid canal. Ryan, who's about 12, drowns during a play fight with his neighbor, the ... See full summary »
Following her boyfriend's suicide, supermarket clerk Morvern Callar passes off his unpublished novel as her own. With the money her boyfriend left for his funeral, she leaves Scotland for ... See full summary »
This story takes place in a small town on the Hungarian Plain. In a provincial town, which is surrounded with nothing else but frost. It is bitterly cold weather - without snow. Even in ... See full summary »
Glasgow, summer, 1973. Dustmen are striking; bags of garbage add to the blight of council flats and a fetid canal. Ryan, who's about 12, drowns during a play fight with his neighbor, the jug-eared James. James runs home, a flat where he lives with his often-drunk da, his ma, and sisters, who live in hope of moving to newly-built council flats. The slice-of-life, coming-of-age story follows James as he tags along with the older lads; has a friendship with his quirky wee rodent-loving neighbor, Kenny; spends time with Margaret Anne, myopic, slightly older, the local sexual punching bag; and, has a moment or two of joy. The strike may end, but is there any way out for James? Written by
Written and Performed by Nick Drake
Published by Warlock Music Ltd / Island Music Ltd
Courtesy of Island Records Ltd
Licensed by kind permission from Polygram Film & TV Licensing See more »
The opening shot of Lynne Ramsay's Ratcatcher is unlike any I have ever seen. With the soundtrack absent, we see the image of young boy wrapped in a set of curtains, twirling around, having a ball. Suddenly, a hand comes from off-screen and slaps the boy in the head, snapping us into the reality of the moment. It's the boy's mother, who insists that he stop playing around and go outside. Filmed in choppy slow-motion, the image of the boy in the curtain is both beautiful and foretelling. The curtains suggest the image of a body bag, something the boy will eventually need when he goes outside moments later and drowns in a filth-infested pond.
The idea of innocence mired in poverty is the theme of Ratcatcher, one of the most amazing debut films I have seen. This is a wholly original work, complete with poetic visuals and haunting atmosphere. If I were to describe it as anything, I'd say it's like The 400 Blows meets George Washington but directed by Alan Parker. To say this, however, would be to suggest that this stunning first film is in some way unoriginal. Nothing could be further from the truth. With this one film, Lynne Ramsay has given me images that I will never forget. Some are too special to describe in print and I will only say that they capture the dream-like innocence of childhood like no other film.
Despite these wonderful images, Ratcatcher is at once a very dreary, grimy film. It takes place during the Glasgow garbage strike of 1973. The streets nothing more than garbage-strewn paths for rats to feast upon and spread disease. There is lice, there is dirt, there are damp and muddy canals. And there is James (William Eadie). James is the Dumbo-eared hero of the film - a feeble, pale-faced lad who has seen all too much in his twelve short years. His father is a tough drunk with a heart, his mother a free-spirited, sometimes battered housewife, his older sister a sexually curious teen, and his younger sister the forever-playful picture of innocence. James is caught in the middle, attempting to come to terms with his blossoming identity and sexual drive. Among other things in this poverty-stricken environment, James is dealing with the death of his friend, the boy who drowned in the canal. Indeed James was there when the boy drowned, and he may have had something to do with it. But this traumatic event simply fuels James' need to escape.
The film could definitely be categorized as a coming-of-age picture, but that would be cheating it. Like many great films, Ratcatcher redefines its genre. The path of discovery for James is harrowing and painful, but like anyone's experience -- unique. As the images I mentioned before suggest, James' growth is not without its moments of beauty and tranquility. There is an episode in the film where James randomly takes a bus to the outskirts of town. He is unaware where the bus will take him and really doesn't care. As he travels farther from his town we can almost feel the garbage and dirt sifting away. He comes upon a small area of land where a newly developed housing project is being constructed. This might as well be a million miles from where he came from. James is alone amongst the yellow corn fields and fresh saw dust. Here he loses himself in the moment, walking through the yet-to-be-built homes with wide-eyes and a wider smile. The ensuing growth of this area represents the growth of James himself. There are shots here that are too rich for words, but are so perfect, so lyrical, I wanted to wallpaper my house with them.
With this one film, it's clear as the yellow corn fields that she depicts so brilliantly, that Lynne Ramsay is a director to be reckoned with. Her visual style left me speechless at points and her screenplay moved me beyond words. The ending of the film lives up to the rest. Nothing finalized, nothing set in stone. Just a wonderfully ambiguous moment that could be interpreted in a number of ways. This is a film that brought me back to the time of growing up. Not in any specific way, but in way where the small details transcend the familiar. If that time in my life were to flash before me in some dream-like, cinematic montage, it would undoubtedly include moments not unlike many I saw in Ratcatcher. Ramsay is able to present the pain, the wonder, the mischief of it all. And images. Images I will never forget.
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