Ratcatcher (film)

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Ratcatcher
Ratcatcher film.jpg
DVD cover
Directed by Lynne Ramsay
Produced by Gavin Emerson
Written by Lynne Ramsay
Screenplay by Lynne Ramsay
Starring
Music by Rachel Portman
Cinematography Alwin H. Küchler
Editing by Lucia Zucchetti
Studio
Distributed by
Release dates
  • May 13, 1999 (1999-05-13) (Cannes Film Festival)
  • November 12, 1999 (1999-11-12) (UK)
  • January 12, 2000 (2000-01-12) (France)
Running time 94 minutes
Country
  • United Kingdom
  • France
Language Scots, English
Box office $217,244[1]

Ratcatcher is a 1999 film written and directed by Lynne Ramsay. It is her debut feature film and was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival.[2]

The film won its director numerous awards including the Carl Foreman Award for Newcomer in British Film at the BAFTA Awards, the Sutherland Trophy at the London Film Festival and the Silver Hugo for Best Director at the Chicago International Film Festival.

Ratcatcher never received a wide cinematic release. It was released on DVD by the Criterion Collection.

Overview[edit]

Ratcatcher is set in Glasgow, 1973. The city, despite its Victorian grandeur, has some schemes with the poorest housing conditions in western Europe, such as no running hot water, no bathing facilities and no indoor toilet. The city is mid-way through a major re-development program, demolishing these schemes and re-housing the tenants in new modern estates. The problems in these schemes are somewhat compounded by the binmen going on strike, creating an additional health hazard and a breeding ground for rats. The main character, James, is a 12-year old boy, growing up in one of these schemes, which is gradually emptying, as the re-housed tenants move out. James, with the rest of his family, two sisters, one older, one younger,his mum and heavy-drinking father, patiently waits to be re-housed.

Plot[edit]

The film opens focused upon James' friend Ryan Quinn, being forced to put on his wellington boots to go to visit his father, who is in jail. He'd rather play with James instead and runs off while his mother is not looking. Ryan meets James at the canal and during some rough-house play he is drowned, clearly with James bearing much of the blame for not having raised the alarm. James believes his inaction has gone unnoticed.

The film follows the sensitive James as he tries to come to terms with his guilt, and make sense of the insensitive aspects of his environment.

His one escape comes when he takes a bus to the end of the line and ends up in the outskirts of the city, where a new housing estate is under construction. He explores the half-built houses, and wonders in awe at the view from the kitchen window: an expansive field of wheat, blowing in the wind and reaching to the horizon. In a scene central to the film, he climbs through the window and escapes into the blissful freedom of the field.

James befriends a girl, Margaret Anne, whom he tries to help after her glasses are thrown into the canal by the local gang. James and Margaret Anne become close friends. She is his only other relief from his home environment. She has problems of her own, allowing herself to be abused by the local gang. The two find comfort in each other's company.

In a memorable scene, one of James's friends, Kenny, receives a pet mouse as a birthday present. After the gang throw the mouse around to make him "fly", Kenny ties the mouse's tail to a balloon and we see it float to the moon where it joins a whole colony of other mice frolicking on the moon.

The same friend falls in the canal later and is rescued by James' father, making him briefly into a local hero.

Ryan's family are eventually re-housed and on the day of leaving, Ryan's mother gives James the pair of brown sandals she had bought for Ryan on the day of his death.

Though the military eventually comes and cleans up all the garbage in the neighborhood, James realizes that his situation will most likely never change. He plunges himself into the canal, and we are shown a brief scene is which James's family is moving into a new neighborhood.

Cast[edit]

  • William Eadie… James Gillespie
  • Tommy Flanagan … George Gillespie
  • Mandy Matthews … Anne Gillespie
  • Michelle Stewart … Ellen Gillespie
  • Lynne Ramsay Jr. … Anne Marie Gillespie
  • Leanne Mullen … Margaret Anne
  • Thomas McTaggart - Ryan Quinn

Reception[edit]

Ratcatcher received generally positive reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 84% of 38 critics gave the film a positive review, for an average rating of 7.6/10. The site's critical consensus is that "Critics find Ratcatcher to be hauntingly beautiful, though its story is somewhat hard to stomach." Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, has a "generally favorable" score of 76 based on 18 reviews.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ratcatcher (2000)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved April 13, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Ratcatcher". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-10-10. 

External links[edit]