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It is interested to watch this movie right after watching and reviewing “George Washington.” There are a lot of similarities that can be drawn from these movies. Both address childhood imagination and strife following a horrific death, both address growing up in a poverty stricken family and both address the problems of a non-supportive or absent father figure. Additionally, both films are filled with gorgeous scenes and amazing settings. Where Ratcatcher excelled however is in the imagery and metaphors so kindly woven into the plot.
Set during the 1973 Garbage Strike in Glasgow, the movie follows the quite adventures of James. Early on in the movie, James plays a part in the death of a neighbor boy. While no one knows of his role in the death (at least we are shown to believe that through the majority of the movie), James starts to act differently around his family, friends and the canal in which the boy drowned. Nicely echoing the struggle to forget the incident in James’ conscience, the city of Glasgow is filling up with garbage and disease. Building to a climax where either the strike will end or the military will clean up the streets. Similarly, you can see that James is building to a point where he either tells someone of his role in the boys death or finds a way to clear his head.
James ultimately tries to clear his head and befriends a whole cast of other misfits. From his friend who loves animals to his “girlfriend” (who possibly sleeps with or is continually raped by local boys throughout the movie) who is blinded due to her glasses being thrown into the canal. These relationships also form great metaphors for what the young James is most likely thinking. The friend who loves animals and is caring no doubt is the side of James that wishes he didn’t kill the boy. On the other hand, the girlfriend that is blind due to something left in the canal relates to the innocence left in the canal when the boy died.
Slowly the movie leads to a point where James finds a way to get out of the slums of Glasgow and ends up running and playing as a young boy through a field in a nearby housing development. These houses, we are lead to believe are government tract housing set up for the families living in the slums. At multiple points it is referenced that in fact James’ family will be moving to one of these homes in the near future, but things just never seem right for the whole family.
Again the film is beautiful to watch and the acting the of children in this movie is quite good (another point in which this movie was more entertaining than George Washington). The script and screen play were very well thought out and the weaving of story lines and imagery was exactly what I look for in a movie. I only warn others that this movie is not fast paced and as the accent is accurate, you will probably need to read the subtitles in some scenes in order to catch what the actors are saying. That being said, I definitely recommend this movie to anyone looking for a beautiful and enjoyable (albeit not overly thrilling) movie.
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