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Ratcatcher (Widescreen)

Tommy Flanagan , Mandy Matthews , Lynne Ramsay    Unrated   DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 32.99 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Product Description

Product Description

In her breathtaking and assured debut feature, Lynne Ramsay creates a haunting evocation of a troubled Glasgow childhood. Set during Scotland’s national garbage strike of the mid-1970s, Ratcatcher explores the experiences of a poor adolescent boy as he struggles to reconcile his dreams and his guilt with the abjection that surrounds him. Utilizing beautiful, elusive imagery, candid performances, and unexpected humor, Ratcatcher deftly examines the landscape of urban decay and a rich interior landscape of hope and perseverance, resulting in a work at once raw and deeply poetic.


Brutality and hope intertwine in this quiet coming-of-age story. Set in a Glasgow, Scotland, slum during a 1973 trash collectors' strike, the film follows young James, shaken after accidentally causing the death of a friend, who dreams of moving into newly built council flats. The loosely plotted slice-of-life piece moves between James's family and his friendship with Kenny, a slightly off animal fancier, and the older Margaret Anne. Though the setting is grim, the movie is far from bleak. Even as the trash bags pile up, James takes comfort in something as simple as being combed for head lice. The cast is excellent, and writer-director Lynne Ramsay coaxes astonishingly good performances out of her child actors. Complex and haunting, Ratcatcher holds a silent wish at its center. The DVD includes an interview with Ramsay, and three of her short films. --Ali Davis

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely Nov. 28 2003
By A Customer
If you read reviews for a plot synopsis, you likely won't like this film, much less this review. In the end, who cares about plot, if the direction, performances, set design, cinematography, and production quality are good enough? This is not a plot-less venture; rather, it's a true-to-life, realistic-but-lyrical, coming-of-age exploration. But, regardless of plot, there's a beautiful story here, filmed with the exstiquisite eye of Lynne Ramsey. If you like the 400 Blows (I don't, personally), or any other realistic, depressing tale of a child's life, you will love this film. The dialect is so thick that subtitles are provided, and the cinematogrpahy so stunningly bleak that you'll find it hard to drag your eyes from the image to the words. I can't say enough positive things about this gorgeous film. A true European indie feature, not the semi-indie crap Miramax passes off these days. The DVD comes with 3 remarkable shorts (okay--two greats and one unbearable), and is really a MUST for wanna-be film students (I'm one, so trust me!)
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5.0 out of 5 stars a bit "drecht", but brilliantly thought provoking Aug. 17 2003
Format:VHS Tape
I was warned in advance that "Ratcatcher" was a bit "drecht" (Glaswegian for gloomy). That is undeniable, but it is also a very sensitive, thought provoking piece. Set in Glasgow in 1973, the film explores various themes, such as the main character James' guilt over the accidental drowning of a friend, his uneasy relationship with his drunken father and his innocent friendship with a teenage hooker. It manages to weave together all these stories without seeming heavyhanded. The acting is brilliant,particularly that of the child actors, most of whom had never acted before. The adult actors are brilliant, too, especially Tommy Flanagan, who plays James' often drunk "Da" (the scene where he berates James for innocently letting council inspectors into the family's apartment and tells him that "It'll be all your f--g fault" if they lose their coveted council house is an assessment of everything that is wrong with this family.)
The subtitles were interesting. I understand the Glaswegian dialect (by virtue of having a Glaswegian mother), but it was interesting to see how the dialogue was transferred onto the screen. I noticed that the words were transposed on the screen as is, not translated into standard English (i.e. "No, ye cannae" rather than "No you can't"). It actually was better that way.
The ending is ambiguous, but that's keeps what the film in your mind. It also ends on a poignant note. The final scene is the only time in the film that James smiles. All in all, I would not recommend this to someone who wants cheering up, but if you can handle the "down side" it is a marvellous production.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Poetic, not sentimental, Scottish film. Sept. 18 2002
Lynne Ramsay's unhurried debut is, let's get right down to it, quite beautiful. This is one of the most exciting first features I've seen in recent memory. Set in a Glasgow housing project during the 1970s sanitation strikes, "Ratcatcher" presents a perspective of life through the eyes of children. Now this might sound kind of sappy, but it isn't at all. There is nothing cute about "Ratcatcher" whatsoever. Ramsay's writing and direction is quite poetic, but not sentimental, and relies on atmosphere (thanks to Alwin Kuchler's photography and some good soundtrack choices) over melodrama, tragedy, and tear-jerking. Ramsay shows a genuine affection for each and every one of the film's major characters, while at the same time showing their faults, failures, and weaknesses. Differentiation between children and adults seems irrelevent - in "Ratcatcher" they are all imperfect, incomplete people. There is a strong stylistic similarity between "Ratcatcher" and Hamony Korine's "Gummo," both films focusing mainly on "damaged" children and an impoverished community tainted by some unspoken looming dread. But where "Gummo" at times seemed (to me anyway) to resort to shock tactics, or at least hopeless grotesqueries, in its portrait of humanity, "Ratcatcher"'s tone is more one of naïve fascination skillfully captured, a tone not unlike that of the still underrated Terrence Malick. A perfect companion to this style is Ramsay's use of a number of child non-actors, who she directs flawlessly.
One thing that really struck me about "Ratcatcher" was that it seemed as though the film's climaxes were all dispensed very early in the film. Within five minutes we witness the death that will haunt our protagonist, James, for the rest of his life.
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5.0 out of 5 stars poetry in the slums Sept. 7 2002
the closest relative to lynne ramsay's haunting and poetic "ratcatcher" is its american cousin, david gordon green's equally accomplished debut "george washington" (also available on Criterion). both films focus on young children struggling to come to terms with the poverty and decay that surround them and threaten to engulf their childish optimism. both films also share a remarkable visual poetry that acts as a filmic catharsis of sorts, lifting the characters and their bleak situations (and the viewers with them) up to a realm of hopeful transcendence that feels justly earned, and is never condescending, because of the filmmakers' empathy toward their characters.
but there are important differences between the two films. green's "george washington" maintains a level of poetic distance throughout and is very much grounded by the remarkably unaffected performances of his child actors; and this creates an exquisite balance between harsh realism and high art that is at once deeply moving and haunting. ramsay achieves something very similar, but her "ratcatcher" has more of a social documentary feel (sort of a ken loach meets terrence malick); it is slightly less structured and chooses to effectively insert its audience into the intimate, mundane everyday lives of its impoverished characters rather than have us observe them from a narrative distance. as viewers, we are privy to astonishingly private scenes between young children, such as a troubled boy taking an innocent bath with the town's young, abused harlot. scenes like this one litter the film and are heartbreakingly honest and moving and always catch the viewer off guard.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Story, But Im Getting Tired of The Shakey Camera
ramsey, with her background in photography, falls into a ever-growing trend in independent cinema. Ratcatcher comes complete with shakey steady cam shots, ultra-photograhic framing... Read more
Published on Feb. 2 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gem of a Gutsey Independent Film
Well, I have to confess to turning on the English subtitles to understand the type of English practiced in Scotland, but this is one heck of a movie that will haunt you long after... Read more
Published on July 26 2003 by Michael
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting... Brilliant.
Poetry on screen, this is a grim but beautiful story about working class family life in 1970's England, focusing on the daily escapades of a young boy as he maneuvers through the... Read more
Published on April 22 2003 by noname
5.0 out of 5 stars How perfect can a film be?
I LOVE this movie. It comes across as a film about loss of childhood, working class struggles, and all human attempts to escape. Kind of a downer, I guess. Read more
Published on March 19 2003 by "jackcatfish"
4.0 out of 5 stars A grim look of a real Scotland.
The Ratcatcher is a hauntingly realistic view of Glasgow Scotland in the mid 70's. The story follows James a young boy as he deals with the challenges in his life like death,... Read more
Published on Feb. 8 2003 by Michael Love
4.0 out of 5 stars GRIM BUT LIFE-ENHANCING
Set in a Glasgow, Scotland, slum during the infamous 1973 national trash collectors' strike, RATCATCHER is the stunning first feature of writer-director Lynne Ramsay. Read more
Published on Jan. 30 2003 by Robin Simmons
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking
I've been haunted by this film since I saw it in the theatres two years ago, and I am grateful that Criterion has given it the care and craft that the film deserves in its video... Read more
Published on Sept. 19 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars A Life in Garbage...
Ratcatcher takes place in the early 70s in the slums of Glasgow during a sanitation strike. The film begins with an accident that triggers a socio-economic adventure through the... Read more
Published on Sept. 11 2002 by Kim Anehall
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