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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Maybe you had to be there
I think possibly C Myers just doesn't "get" this film - possibly (and apologies if I'm wrong) thru not having witnessed the events of 70s Britain. Not just for Glasgow was this an appalling period in UK history - almost worse than depression eras before it simply because it promised so much in terms of the "better life" but only for the few. You must take the film as a...
Published on 30 Sep 2007 by fionnghal

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Losing it's Classic Status
I loved this film when it first came out but unfortunately it has not held up well over the passing years. I felt having seen it again that the strength of the narritive of the film isn't strong enough to survive the passage of time. There are better films out there that still carry the same impact they had on their release but this isn't one of them. Style over substance...
Published 3 months ago by DerekT


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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Maybe you had to be there, 30 Sep 2007
By 
fionnghal (Paisley, Scotland) - See all my reviews
I think possibly C Myers just doesn't "get" this film - possibly (and apologies if I'm wrong) thru not having witnessed the events of 70s Britain. Not just for Glasgow was this an appalling period in UK history - almost worse than depression eras before it simply because it promised so much in terms of the "better life" but only for the few. You must take the film as a metaphor for all that was going on at the time. Of course the characters are not fully developed - that was what happened to people like them at that time - no realisation of their full potential. Being under-developed in the film is part of the metaphor, as is the "dreamlike quality" - all these people had was a dream of a better life which was unlikely to be fulfilled. As is the disjointed feel - that was what their lives were - a seies of disjointed events with no direction. And what was the "bike" to do? These kids didn't have nannies or childminders; they looked out for themselves. What she is doing in the film is SURVIVING - that's what it was like. The tale is harrowing because it is a harsh picture of reality as it was then (yes, I WAS there). it is doubly harrowing because so little has changed for so many people. As a secondary school teacher I am dealing on a daily basis some thirty years on with the fall-out of lives such as those portrayed in the rat-catcher. I use the film as a discucssion point at school - horrifically so many of my pupils recognise aspects of their own lives in it.

I rate "The Ratcatcher" highly because it depicts in an artistic yet realistic way, the realities of life then (and sadly life now). Because it is essentially a metaphor, it is much more powerful than "Sweet Sixteen". My pupils would for the most part agree.

And they all get the metaphor.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent debut from Lynne Ramsay, 20 Feb 2010
This review is from: Ratcatcher [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
Ratcatcher is a film set in Glasgow in the 1970's. It's a poignant film about the life of a boy living on an estate, where the level of boredom is criminal, and the main activity of the kids is playing near the dangerous canal and catching rats amongst the rubbish left by the bin collectors strike. This boy witnesses his friend drowning in the canal, and he becomes more withdrawn from his family, but does befriend a girl who is basically being used as the local bike by a few of the lads. He dreams of being moved to a bigger house with a bathroom and fields. The ending will leave splinters in your heart. Excellent use of some Nick Drake music. It is perfectly paced, but if you like action and fast paced films, this is not for you.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard hitting depiction of youth in 70's Glasgow, 23 Jan 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Ratcatcher [VHS] (VHS Tape)
This is a very hard hitting film. Set in the Glasgow tenements during the early 1970's, it tells the story of a young boy who carries a secret around with him. An ongoing theme is a strike by bin men which causes the rubbish to pile up on the streets. Rats start turning up everywhere, hence the film's title. His family, neighbours, friends and the backdrop of society around him, are all disfunctional. At times, he seems the only moderately sane person, drowning in a sea of insanity. Most of the characters are working class and live out their lives isolated in the tenements. The only time we see anyone from the outside world is when his father receives a visit from the council. If you have seen 'Nil By Mouth' then you will have an idea of the grittiness that is portrayed. But there is much here to savour. The film is the director's first outing, and this is an accomplished debut. The camera hangs on certain scenes, and there are uncomfortable silences between characters. At other times, the viewer is left to reflect on the beauty of the on screen image. The ending is somewhat inconclusive, and the viewer is left to make up their own minds as to the final outcome. Gritty, troubling and hard-hitting, a challenging but engaging film that stays with you long after the closing credits.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just beautiful!, 7 Sep 2008
By 
This review is from: Ratcatcher [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
Such an under-rated film, a simple heartachingly wonderful story. I could run a load of cliches to describe it, liken it to any boys story, without the misery of an Angelas Ashes or Kes, this one never gives up hope, even through the backdrop of poverty, filth and the usual alcholism/domestic violence that pervades every scene. I really wanted to find out what happened next, it was just such a good story. Highly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great British Film, 17 July 2010
By 
White Tea (Edinburgh, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Ratcatcher [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
This is without doubt one of the best British films of the last twenty years. Stunningly shot, subtle, moving, tragic and funny. Recalls 1970s Glasgow with an uncanny accuracy. The central performances are perfect. All in all a stunning debut for Lynne Ramsay.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BRILLIANT, 22 Dec 2004
This review is from: Ratcatcher [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
Most definitely poetic and cinematically captivating! It by far exceeds standards of British cinema and conveys a story with style. I did not witness the period of rats and rubbish in the 70's but I found myself still relating to the content. The film is extremely emotive! I give it 8/10.............6 is worth watching!
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sensitive portrayal of urban life, 12 Oct 2006
By 
This review is from: Ratcatcher [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
This was a sensitive portrayal of urban family life in the 1970s. The characters were for the most part sympathetic. The film had an almost dreamlike quality, with poetic imagery in the form of the local canal, rats and black dustbin bags. Although the story was essentially a sad one, it was not morbidly sad.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Lyrical and contemplative soul-search...", 30 July 2013
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This review is from: Ratcatcher [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
Scottish screenwriter and director Lynne Ramsay's feature film debut which she wrote, was shot in Glasgow, Scotland and is a UK-France co-production. It was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 52nd Cannes Film Festival in 1999, in the Contemporary World Cinema section at the 24th Toronto International Film Festival in 1999 and was produced by Gavin Emerson. It tells the story about twelve-year-old James who lives with his father, mother and two sisters in a poor neighbourhood in Glasgow 1973 where the working class is influenced by a garbage streak that over-floods the streets with trash, rats and misfortune. One day when he is out playing with his friend Ryan down by a lake, the playing gets out of hand and Ryan drowns. In a state of shock James vanishes from the scene of the crime and removes all suspicion away from himself. This tragic event causes James' parents great concern, and while James is at a loss as to whether or not he is going to tell someone what really happened, feelings of guilt begins to absorb him and gradually he slips into a lonely and introvert state that threatens to overshadow his perception of reality.

Finely and acutely directed by Scottish filmmaker Lynne Ramsay, this quiet and heartrending drama which is narrated from the protagonist`s point of view, draws an unsentimental and realistic portrayal of a working-class society struck by inflation in Glasgow during the early 1970s. While notable for its gritty and naturalistic milieu depictions, stellar production design by production designer Jane Morton, cinematography by German-born cinematographer Alwin H. Kuchler and Lynne Ramsay's distinct form of expression and individualistic style, this finely tuned study of character which was given English subtitles in England due to the characters particular Scottish dialect, depicts a shining coming-of-age fable about the loss of innocence and contains a fine score by British composer Rachel Portman.

In this compassionately narrated story about adjusting in a world that's easy to be deflected by, but impossible to write off, Lynne Ramsay conceives a nostalgic atmosphere. Somewhere within the sad melancholy that influences the characters, the director is able to captivate lovely images of nature which creates efficient and natural contrasts and her humane insight and directorial talent is evident when she with modest precision goes into the core of a 12-year-old boy's inner states. This remarkable independent film is impelled and reinforced by its cogent narrative structure, débutant William Eadie`s profound acting performance in the role as the rare character James and the fine supporting acting performances. A lyrical and contemplative soul-search which gained, among other awards, the Sutherland Trophy Lynne Ramsay at the British Film Institute Awards in 1999, the Douglas Hickox Award Lynne Ramsay at the 2nd British Independent Film Awards in 1999 and the Carl Foreman Award for Most Promising Newcomer Lynne Ramsay at the 53rd BAFTA Awards in 2000.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lynne Ramsay's Magical Film Debut, 18 Dec 2012
By 
Keith M - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Ratcatcher [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
I must admit that when I first saw Lynne Ramsay's Ratcatcher on its release in 1999 I thought it had perhaps been overrated by the critics. On subsequent repeat viewings, however, I have now come to recognise it as something of a (minor, maybe) masterpiece, providing one of the most outstanding directing debuts (of any nationality) in recent years.

Of course, if you are a fan of Hollywood, multiplex, blockbuster fare then Ratcatcher is almost certainly not for you. Instead, what Ramsay has created is a slow-moving, authentic, funny, touching and powerful tale of adolescence in 1970s Glasgow, as teenager James Gillespie (a near miraculous performance from debutant William Eadie) is struggling to come to terms with his drunken waster of a father, his stoical, but subservient mother, and his two (frankly, just annoying) sisters. James' life has taken a turn for the worse as he blames himself for the accidental drowning of his friend Ryan in the local canal, and his days seem to consist of an endless series of frustrations and confrontations, including with a gang of older boys and their 'confusing' (but sympathetic) female 'groupie' Margaret Anne (Leanne Mullen).

Not only is Ramsay's film a stunning visual and aural experience, with impressively evocative cinematography by Alwin Kuchler and a sparse, but powerfully atmospheric, soundtrack composed by Rachel Portman, but she has also put together a brilliantly talented (mostly first-time) cast. In addition to Eadie's studied and naturalistic central performance, both Tommy Flanagan and Mandy Matthews are excellent as James' parents, particularly the former's visceral depiction as a violent, but tender, drunk, and the children cast are exceptional, particularly Michelle Stewart and the director's eponymous daughter as James' belligerent sisters and John Miller as James' hilarious friend Kenny. Ramsay also has a brilliant eye for her 1970s Glasgow milieu - from social (mother hiding behind the table to avoid the rent collector, drunken layabout father dressing up in suit and tie to go out for the evening, scenes of delousing the children's hair in the front room), political (scenes of rubbish-strewn streets as a result of a dustmen's strike, deployment of the army to clear up the streets) and cultural (daughter's love for Tom Jones in preference to mother's choice of Eddie Cochran's C'Mon Everybody) standpoints.

But perhaps Ramsay's most impressive skill here is the way she conjures up a whole series of magical scenes (veritable visual poetry, I would suggest), such as that where James gambols across a field backing onto a new housing development to which he hopes his family can escape their urban drudgery, or that where Margaret Anne submerges herself in the bath recalling for James the nightmarish drowning incident, or (my favourite) where James' friend Kenny attaches the leg of his pet white mouse (Snowball) to a balloon and watches it float away on its imaginary trip to the moon.

Ratcatcher is, for me, reminiscent (at various points) of some of the best recent British cinema, such as Ken Loach's Kes and Sweet Sixteen, or the films of Terence Davies or even Shane Meadows, but I would contend that Ramsay's film is less conventional and more inventive even than these great exponents of the art. Whatever, Ratcatcher is an outstanding debut film and one that I cannot recommend highly enough.

The DVD also contains three (early) short films, written and directed by Ramsay - Gasman, Small Deaths and Kill The Day - these are of variable quality, but are certainly worth seeing.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grim Coming of Age Film Set in Glasgow Slums Garbage Men's Strike, 30 Oct 2011
By 
Stephanie De Pue (Wilmington, NC USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Ratcatcher [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
"Ratcatcher," the Scottish director Lynn Ramsey's 1999 debut film, comes trailing black clouds behind, described as a grim and disturbing coming of age picture. There's truth to that. It's set in a Glasgow slum, a down-at-heels council estate, that's way too close to a fetid, apparently no-longer-used canal: one of the children central to the plot calls it "creepy," and that'll certainly do as a description.

The film is a Franco-British co-production. It won eleven awards. It's slow-paced, but does show the existence of innocence in dreary, gritty poverty. Ramsey wrote, as well as directed it, and it does have a social-realist agenda. It centers, in a leisurely way, on one particular family, that of James, who appears to be teetering on the brink of adolescence, during the summer of the nationwide Scottish dustmen's strike of 1973. The streets are garbage-strewn, and black garbage bags pile up menacingly, attracting vermin. The plot, set among the city's white, native-born proletariat -- their Scottish accents are so strong that the American version comes with needed subtitles, isn't exactly cheerful, either. It's true tartan noir, but it does show that life goes on as it follows several of the project's children closely.

These children are neglected, bored, without recreational outlets, and are crueler to themselves, each other, and the animals in their world than some of us might wish: then again, they reflect their upbringings, don't they?

But there are some lighter moments, some of that bloody-minded humor that leavens Scottish life. You might consider it in the mold of "tartan noir," a peculiarly Scottish invention. Grim, more violent than usual; but there is that humour. Characters hope for better futures, and show each other the odd tenderness. There's a black and white, film school sequence, apparently meant to be comic, of mice on the moon. Finally, music and dance provide much-needed relief, just as they do in real life. James and his sisters watch a video of the sexy Welsh singing star of the 1960s, Tom Jones, singing "Pussycat, Pussycat." Later, the children joyfully dance with their mother, an abused housewife, to the Chordettes'1960's American bubblegum hit "Lollipop, Lollipop." And for those moments, their troubles are forgotten.
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Ratcatcher [DVD] [1999]
Ratcatcher [DVD] [1999] by Lynne Ramsay (DVD - 2003)
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