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movie review out of 4 Movie Review: Ratcatcher

Starring: William Eadie, Leanne Mullen
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Rated: NR
RunTime: 94 Minutes
Release Date: October 2000
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: Craig Bonar, John Miller, Mandy Matthews, Tommy Flanagan, Thomas McTaggart

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Steve Rhodes review follows movie review
2.  Harvey Karten read the review ---

Review by Steve Rhodes
1 star out of 4

RATCATCHER, the first feature film by writer and director Lynne Ramsay, could have been called BLEAK AND BLEAKER. Unrelentingly downbeat, it tells a story of a family stuck in a miserable existence in the Glasgow slums. Although the family lives in dire conditions, the movie is never able to define any of its characters enough for us to care about their plight. With this rambling movie, which is only slightly better organized than a home video, Ramsay demonstrates almost no ability at storytelling. When the inevitable tragic ending occurs, you almost have to stop yourself from applauding since you are so glad to get this waste of time over with.

As the story starts, James, a young lad of about 12, is involved in some innocent horseplay beside a canal. His companion, Ryan, is accidentally drowned in the process. James is played without one scintilla of emotion by William Eadie, who had never acted before being chosen for the part. It shows. Playing the central character, Eadie is asked to carry the movie, a task of which he is totally incapable.

The rest of James's family are walking clichés. His father (Tommy Flanagan), for example, is a drunk who passes out frequently, causing him to drool on the living room sofa. The wife is the canonical long-suffering type who stands by her man. The only character of any interest in the story is a neighborhood girl named Margaret Anne (Leanne Mullen), who dispenses sexual favors to everyone for unexplained reasons, possibly in a failed attempt to be liked. The character has potential, but Mullen's lifeless performance doesn't do much with it.

As the characters go from tedious tribulation to tribulation, I found myself passing the time by observing how Scottish English differs from American English. The subtitling for the film doesn't try to translate the words. It just records them to make them more intelligible for American audiences. Among other words I found fascinating were: heid, innit and frae.

My wife said it best. "The depressing thing about this movie is that it isn't depressing," she remarked, shaking her head, as we left the theater. With circumstances this tragic, we should feel sad, but we don't because the movie is so poorly constructed and the acting so incredibly bland.

RATCATCHER runs a long 1:33. It is not rated but would be an R for sexual situations, nudity, violence and language. It would be acceptable for older teenagers.

Copyright © 2001 Steve Rhodes

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