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Ratcatcher (1999)Ratcatcher (1999)

Ratcatcher (1999)

A haunting, dreamlike character study set in a dead-end Glasgow neighborhood

Drama

7.7

movie

France, United Kingdom

English

Character-driven, Dark, Depressing

1999

Female director, Lynne Ramsay

Rory McCann, Tommy Flanagan

94 min

Synopsis

James Gillespie is 12 years old. The world he knew is changing. Haunted by a secret, he has become a stranger in his own family. He is drawn to the canal where he creates a world of his own. He finds an awkward tenderness with Margaret Anne, a vulnerable 14 year old expressing a need for love in all the wrong ways, and befriends Kenny, who possesses an unusual innocence in spite of the harsh surroundings.

Our Take

7.7
The Staff

What Lynne Ramsay’s Ratcatcher intentionally refuses to give you by way of plot or resolution, it more than makes up for in sharp visuals, a beautifully sparse score, and an unscratchable feeling of restlessness. It’s a downer for sure, watching 12-year-old James hounded by guilt as he navigates the mundane bleakness of his everyday life. But in every detail and in every interaction he has in this rundown scheme in Glasgow is a window into the simple joys James wishes he could be enjoying. The more trouble the boy walks into, the more the guitar string tightens, and the more you wish something could finally break the cycle. There’s still beauty even in these conditions, Ratcatcher tells us—but it isn’t right that anyone should have to live like this.

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