15 user 7 critic

Rat (2000)

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A woman becomes furious when her husband arrives home from the local pub and turns into a rat.


Steve Barron


Wesley Burrowes
3 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Imelda Staunton ... Conchita Flynn
Frank Kelly ... Uncle Matt
David Wilmot ... Phelim Spratt
Andrew Lovern Andrew Lovern ... Pius Flynn
Kerry Condon ... Marietta Flynn
Pete Postlethwaite ... Hubert Flynn
Veronica Duffy Veronica Duffy ... Daisy
Ed Byrne ... Rudolph
Niall Toibin ... Father Geraldo
Alfie Alfie ... Mickey the Dog
Peter Caffrey Peter Caffrey ... Mick the Barman
Rita Hamill Rita Hamill ... Estate Woman
Roxanna Nic Liam Roxanna Nic Liam ... Hopscotch Child (as Roxanna Williams)
Geoffrey Palmer ... The Doctor
Stanley Townsend ... Newsreader


Dublin deliveryman Hubert Flynn feels peaked. Home from the pub, he lies down; while his nagging wife Conchita looks on, he turns into a rat. She's chafed at how inconsiderate he is: hardly touching his food the next morning and leaving droppings on the good doilies. With curiosity seekers outside the flat and a writer at the door offering to help Conchita turn her story into a book, she calls a family meeting. Her seminary-bound son Pius wants to kill the rat; other family members are ambivalent. They opt to hurl Hubert over the fence of a maggot farm. Christmas approaches; an exorcism is in the cards, and the book becomes the Holy Grail. What of Hubert's conversion? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

watching tv | rat | book | pub | writer | See All (130) »


He might eat maggots and live in a cage but he's still our Dad

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for language and brief nudity | See all certifications »



Ireland | UK | USA



Release Date:

6 October 2000 (Ireland) See more »

Also Known As:

Esse Rato É um Espanto See more »

Filming Locations:

Dublin, County Dublin, Ireland


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,815, 29 April 2001, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$2,501, 6 May 2001
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



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Did You Know?


[first lines]
Hubert: Seventy years ago, me grandfather, Hubert Flynn Foster, set out from his home in the County Wexford, and joining north over the hills and valleys of Whitlock, until he came to Dublin City.
Hubert: I remember once, when I was a chiseler, he caught me whittlin' up against the wall. And he told me if I behaved like a dog, I might turn into a dog. And then he was off on one of his old yarns about people he knew that turned into goats and weasels. Of course we ran afoul, he said, of more than ...
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O Fortuna
from "Carmina Burana"
Written by Carl Orff
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User Reviews

Film about man who turns into rat the most realistic film about Ireland in ages.
18 October 2000 | by the red duchessSee all my reviews

'Rat' is a charming, funny film that has been getting somewhat overpraised here because films from this country are generally inept, pretentious and/or cliched. 'Rat' is none of these things, and so is a cause for rejoicing, but to use epithets like 'Borgesian' seems inappropriate - the film has few of the philosophical resonances of true Borgesian films like 'Performance', 'The Spider's Strategem', 'Belle de Jour' or even 'Being John Malkovich', to which this film has been mostly compared. We are never shown what the transformation from human to rat has on Hubert's psyche; there are no questions about what it means to be human or its limits.

With the exception of a couple of point-of-view shots necessary to resolve the narrative, the film takes place entirely outside Hubert's experience, focusing instead on his family's reactions, so that it's almost irrelevant that he is a rat. This distances the film somewhat from another source, Kafka's 'Metamorphosis', although both share the emphasis on family reaction. Kafka's fable is a dramatisation of alienation, from identity, body, family, society, epoque even species.

Some eager critics of 'Rat' have seen it as an allegory of racism in latterday Ireland (and it is a very xenophobic society at present), but the links are tenuous - Hubert begins as a confirmed member of his society; any mocking of the family are just that, jibes at the family, just as you'll get in any society based on begrudgery or gossip (although, considering the near-sacred status of the Irish family not so long ago, this is pointed enough).

Before I go on to praise the film - and it is a film, for vision and audacity, that deserves much praise - I just want to mention one more flaw - Wesley Burrowes' excellent script is frequently let down by ponderous direction, which sometimes drags out the script's nimble wit in attempts to be 'deep'.

The thing that surprised me most about 'Rat' was not its modernity or intellectual sophistication, but its recreation of a certain Ireland that is only a generation old, and yet seems as remote as the Famine. It could be set in any time from the 40s to the early 70s - only the blurred clip from 'Eat the Peach' (mid-80s) and the Karaoke machine in the very last scene gives away the setting as any later (yeah, and maybe Marietta's bizarre tights). This is an Ireland mercifully free of mobile phones, go-getting yuppies and strategic planning - this is a world of Johnson Mooney and O'Brien delivery vans, quiet pints in quiet pubs, smelly bookies, young sons who want to be priests, priests who are psychotics and perform exorcisms with what appears to be bondage gear, neighbours trying to openly steal husbands, know-all brothers-in-law who know nothing.

What is modern about the film is the way it captures a particular social phenomenon. With the breaking of old social and religious ties in recent years, there has been a greater personal freedom never experienced in this country. With this liberty, though, has been an increase in selfishness, in general apathy towards anyone else, and the reaction to Hubert brilliantly shows this, the family worried about how it will affect THEM, what people will think of them. Their willingness to kill is chillingly plausible (and mirrors the icy piety of pro-lifers), and maybe this is where the anti-racism comes in, that we're not used to so much prosperity and happiness, that we are violently hostile to anyone who threatens to take it from us.

As an entertainment, 'Rat' is full of good things, the off-centre dialogue, the gloriously silly performances (Niall Toibin's parody of 'the Exorcist' is priceless), the arched-eyebrow situations. There are some lovely visual set-ups, the opening narration which moves from the hackneyed Romantic Irish landscape of American legend to a rat's eye view (on a boat!) of Dublin down the Liffey; the chase of Hubert as he escapes from a pub, finally upending a beer delivery truck; the second chase, the camera swooping back on a sprawling housing estate as chessboard.

The revelation for me, though, was the showbands on the soundtrack. For decades the word 'showband' has been an insult, its dominance during the reactionary era seen as collusive; now we all listen to tedious, serious rock or whatever. But the Brendan Bowyer song that closes the film is remarkable, as huge, celebratory, melancholy and musically exhilarating as early Scott Walker.

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