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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 3.7%
Just Average: 3.7%
Pretty Crappy: 22.22%
Sucks: 7.41%

3 reviews, 9 user ratings

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by Greg Muskewitz

"A scarely lighter 'Angela's Ashes' redux."
2 stars

"Ratcatcher" is not exactly an appealing name for a movie, but then again, something as wacky or different as "Water Drops on Burning Rocks" is not always necessary either. "Ratcatcher" quickly calls to mind the melancholy, depressionish gray area so ingrained in our memories from the pity raping experience of "Angela's Ashes." Though director Lynne Ramsay's feature-length debut is not nearly as pathos-ridden nor pathetic, the movie is still to heavily burdened and superficial.

Glasgowian 12-year-old James (William Eadie) is a normal kid living in the impoverished town with hopes of moving on to better things, but things come to a premature halt within the first five minutes when James accidentally pushes his friend into a canal, and the friend drowns. Living with the guilt, and without anyone knowing about it, the boy grows continually more pensive from not only the shabby conditions surrounding him, but also the atrophy of his parents and siblings.

James drifts to a constant daze of daydreams, and finds solace in an abandoned, or at least vacant house being built, but also in that of a teased and ostracized 14-year-old girl (Lynne Mullen). Pressured into a whorish figure (the local gang-boys either use her sexually, or at least beat off to her), James sees beyond that, tenderizing the commiserative relationship between them. Baggage is added on a regular basis to weigh the movie down, but not as much in the suffocating, unendurable way as "Angela's Ashes."

While Ramsay is not forcing us to wallow in unempathetic pity for the characters of "Ratcatcher," she is subjecting us continually to bleak darkness of the problems and unfairness the characters are suffering. For one thing, it is hard to care because none of the characters are ever given the proper time, adjustment, development, connection or understanding to identify with, outside of a natural feeling of sorrow for those facing such travail. Even the travail is not so harsh as that in "Angela's Ashes"; much of what Ramsay discusses in the press kit is plot and ideas that could have been further explored, but were not. Her exploration of these events and emotional awkwardness are only touched upon, skimmed over and layered on as thick patinas.

"Ratcatcher" does try to emphasize some things on the lighter side, but its darkness doesn't allow much room to breathe. There are the obligatory nothing scenes like dancing to Tom Jones, or other pop-music of the time, but they are just that --throw away, and nothing more. They don't help to exfoliate the movie in any other way than to serve as a temporary distraction or diversion. Overall I think Ramsay means well, but she doesn't have the patience, development or maturity as a filmmaker to show it like she wants to tell it.

It's interesting how other countries seem less bothered by child nudity and sensuality. I don't know whether some of the scenes in "Ratcatcher" would have made it in the final cut, had this been an American product, but this seems to come without controversy. As far as the nudity is concerned, it has a young girl (Lynne Ramsay, Jr. --the director's niece) in the bathtub, somewhat exposed; and it also has a scene between James and the 14-year-old girl where he bathes her, and joins her in the tub --both fully nude, though he is not seen from the front. She is, but whether a stunt double was used for that part of the scene is unknowable. When the two sit in the tub splashing water about, although she is without a top, there are glimpses of underwear on both.

None of the actors are very memorable or highly talented, but the one who caught my eye was Ramsay, Jr. She was funny, well-timed for comedic circumstance, and seemingly unaware of the camera. Ramsay, Jr. conducted herself with a pleasant natural aura and brightened up the spots she was around for.

"Ratcatcher" leaves you with a little bit to think about, but not much substance to chew on. It boarders too strongly on the false idée fixe that because a subject or lifestyle is unfair and detrimental, that it will automatically affect its audience. Instead, the atrabilious nature of the beast clouds too much of the progress, and possibilities leaving far too many avenues unexplored or at best, wandered across.


Final Verdict: C-.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=4549&reviewer=172
originally posted: 03/22/01 17:23:57
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User Comments

1/18/09 futurestar makes me wanna' move to glasgow, quit bathing, & become walking greenhouse for parasites 5 stars
7/28/04 BM An amazing debut - sensitive, exsquisitely crafted, and beautifully understated! 5 stars
3/22/04 Matt Thiel Incomprehensible trash (Hey, I tried to like it) 1 stars
2/25/01 acid man only for losers w/ no real concept of life, this movie is only for the mentally weak 1 stars
12/21/00 erich groat possibly the best movie I've ever seen. Amazing. 5 stars
12/19/00 Saucy Bellows Sublime... Ramsey's creative verve has produced the most poetic Brit film since Kes. 5 stars
11/08/00 Spetters Really weird, but strangely compelling. 4 stars
11/05/00 Gray dreary and unoriginal 3 stars
10/17/00 Klute. Great film, very well shot and performed, a must see. 5 stars
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