Parents' Guide to

Ratcatcher

By Brian Costello, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Gritty yet beautiful coming-of-age film too dark for kids.

Movie NR 2000 94 minutes
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RATCATCHER is an unforgettable film that manages to find tiny moments of beauty in the midst of tremendous poverty and despair. The subject matter is bleak -- the drowning death of a boy, a garbage worker strike, a housing project slowly being vacated -- and there are no heroes. Even James's Da (Tommy Flanagan) who is heralded for saving a boy from a near-drowning death is a drunkard who hits his wife. But all of this ugliness makes the small moments of joy for these characters (often found in escape fantasies) all the more memorable.

The terrible (and often disgusting) realities of a garbage strike and a housing project lacking in acceptable living conditions is presented so convincingly you feel like you can almost smell the garbage piling up. The acting is flawless, as is the direction. While the sex and violence makes this not for kids, Ratcatcher is a timeless film, and definitely one of the best films of the 1990s.

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