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Ratcatcher [DVD] 
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Twelve-year-old James (William Eadie) lives on a rundown Glasgow housing estate with his alcoholic father. Haunted by the drowning of his best friend, James is irresistibly drawn to the site of the death, which now plays host to a new housing development. There he meets a similarly troubled young girl (Leanne Mullen), with whom he strikes up an unusual friendship.
Ratcatcher is the brilliant feature debut of young Scottish writer-director Lynne Ramsay, one of the finest new talents to emerge in world cinema during the 1990s. Her subject matter is the stuff of social realism, but she also has an exquisite eye (she trained as a cinematographer), and a vivid imagination that colours her storytelling with startling, original moments. There are quite a few rats in Ratcatcher, offering both shudders and chuckles for the viewer; but essentially this is a story about childhood, and the slow death of innocence.
It is the summer of 1973, and 12-year-old James Gillespie (William Eadie) lives with his family on a Glasgow estate that looks increasingly wretched amid a strike by dustmen. One day, James inadvertently causes his pal Ryan to drown in the murky local canal; and he flees the scene, apparently unseen. Thereafter he finds some solace in a touching friendship with an older girl, Margaret Anne (Leanne Mullen) whom the other local lads just use for sexual kicks. (In a lovely scene, James and Margaret splash about in a bathtub like brother and sister, then sit together in front of the TV munching sandwiches; Ramsay excels at directing these young non-professional performers.)
James dreams of leaving the estate for one of the big new houses being built a few miles out of town. (In another fabulous sequence, he romps through the hayfield surrounding the site, under a dream-bright blue sky.) But finally James cannot escape his circumstances, any more than he can forget about his pal's untimely death.
Premiered at the Cannes Festival in 1999, Ratcatcher instantly earned Ramsay comparisons with Francois Truffaut's Les Quatre Cent Coups and Ken Loach's Kes; so you can imagine the force of her talent. But Ramsay assuredly establishes her own voice in this wonderful movie. --Richard Kelly --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Written and directed by Lynne Ramsay. A film about a young lad, James, who while horsing around with a friend near the canal, ends up witnessing his friend drowning. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Kes
Very disappointed with this film
Direct/writer must have had a list of things to show us
They did this then missed out our national drink Barr,s Irn Bru. Read more