Lynne Ramsay has the qualities of a good ghost: she swings open doors and pulls back curtains, not to nag or threaten but just to remind the present of the values of the past. In her short career as a director... [more]
Lynne Ramsay has the qualities of a good ghost: she swings open doors and pulls back curtains, not to nag or threaten but just to remind the present of the values of the past. In her short career as a director and writer, Ramsay has brought a beautiful, slowed-down sensibility back into contemporary filmmaking. Ramsay creates confident films that blossom; her images sometimes demand patience, but they do resonate emotionally once they've finally developed.
Ramsay has been compared to Bill Douglas, Ken Loach, and Robert Bresson. Of course, it's easy to see the comparison between "Ratcatcher" and a certain other Ken Loach film about an alienated little boy. But Ramsay's work has a languid kind of stylization that's all her own; there's no existing genre that really suits her style. Critics rave about the photographic "stillness" in her films, her use of repeated images, and her painterly sense of composition.
In her debut feature film "Ratcatcher," Ramsay uses these techniques to tell the story of a 12-year-old boy named James growing up in the slums of Glasgow in the early '70s. When an innocent bout of play turns into accidental murder, the ill-fated James is condemned to spend the rest of the film haunted by guilt. His abusive alcoholic parents and a depressed, bitter community only make things worse. James' only solace is his friendship with 14-year-old Margaret, who is frequently sexually abused by the older boys in the neighborhood. Throughout the film, Ramsay patterns her narrative with images of the canal -- it's a gloom-filled symbol of both the tragic guilt and the oppressive community that threaten to drown the young protagonist.
But "Ratcatcher" is more than a social commentary. The film's real mission is to question whether James is a child or an adult; the audience is torn between the James who is independent, tough, and pays no societal debt for his friend's death, and the James who is playful, needy, and lonely.
Althoug Ramsay hasn't yet produced many films, her small repertoire is undoubtedly strong. "Ratcatcher" has earned dozens of prestigious awards and her earlier short films has garnered three jury prizes: at Cannes in 1996 for "Small Deaths"; at Clermont Ferrand in 1997 for "Kill the Day"; and at Cannes in 1998 for "Gasman." [show less]