Set in Glasgow, Scotland in the 1970’s and starring Tommy Flanagan, Mandy Matthews, William Eadie. The plot: tenement life seen through the eyes of a boy soon to be teenager. There is a garbage worker’s strike going on so the world in which he lives is full of garbage, fleas and rats. The boy has some problems. He resents his father. As the middle child, he is uncertain of his standing in the family. He is in need of some TLC which he finds in the person of a neglected and abused teenage girl. As a result of all this he is doing a good deal of “acting out” (to use today’s vernacular) and appears to be on track to becoming a delinquent, skinhead or punk.
He’s a sensitive kid in a highly insensitive place. The world he lives in is very rough and there is little to hope for except a new apartment in a new development (this is an ongoing topic among family members and neighbors). However, there are a few small signs of hope in the movie, occasions when the boy chooses to do the right thing. But there are more occasions when he does not or simply does nothing (which can be considered the same thing if you know right from wrong). My big take-aways from Ratcatcher are as follows:
– parents can and will let you down
– poverty impoverishes the soul
– societal neglect leads to personal neglect
– hope is steadily extinguished as we approach adulthood
But despite all this the movie is well worth seeing because it is wonderfully photographed, the characters fascinating, and the acting natural. The situation is both appalling and mesmerizing. I do suggest subtitles to assist in understanding the Scottish brogue.
– written by jbm 5/19/2017
criterion collection: https://www.criterion.com/films/716-ratcatcher