Ratcatcher

Though an overwhelmingly dreary experience, Scottish director Lynne Ramsay's debut feature is beautifully done and a worthy addition to the canon of youth in extremis films that includes THE 400 BLOWS and KES. Glasgow, the not-too-distant past: A garbagemen's strike has entered its third month, and the run-down housing block where 12-year-old James Gillespie...read more

Where to Watch

Available to Stream

  • Watch on
Reviewed by Ken Fox
Rating:

Though an overwhelmingly dreary experience, Scottish director Lynne Ramsay's debut feature is beautifully done and a worthy addition to the canon of youth in extremis films that includes THE 400 BLOWS and KES. Glasgow, the not-too-distant past: A garbagemen's strike has entered its third month, and the run-down housing block where 12-year-old James Gillespie (William Eadie) lives with his parents (Mandy Matthews, Tommy Flanagan) and sisters (Michelle Stewart, Lynne Ramsay Jr.) is brimming with rotting trash and crawling with rats. The neighborhood

bullies pass the time hunting vermin with sticks, cajoling 14-year-old Margaret Anne (Leanna Mullen) into having sex with them or cruising the pestilent canal that runs behind the council flats. There, one rainy afternoon, something terrible happens: James and little Ryan Quinn (Thomas McTaggart)

are horsing around in the canal's muddy water when Ryan accidentally drowns. Rather than run for help, James runs home and doesn't tell a soul, not even after Ryan's body is found. Haunted by his secret, James retreats into a fantasy of a happy life in one the shiny new homes being built amid the

rolling wheat fields that lie at the end of the local bus line. For all its harsh realism, the film flows like a dream, albeit a highly unpleasant one. Ramsay has a strong stomach when it comes to unremitting squalor but also a keen eye for unexpected, heart-stopping imagery — a white mouse

tied to a red balloon that's destined for the moon; a melting ice cream cone dripping with blood. She also has a way with young, nonprofessional actors: Young Eadie, who's in every scene, manages to carry the entire film, and newcomer Mullen is a heartbreaker as a young girl who's popular with the

boys for all the wrong reasons. (In heavily accented English, with English subtitles.)

Cast & Details See all »

  • Released: 1999
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Though an overwhelmingly dreary experience, Scottish director Lynne Ramsay's debut feature is beautifully done and a worthy addition to the canon of youth in extremis films that includes THE 400 BLOWS and KES. Glasgow, the not-too-distant past: A garbageme… (more)

Show More »