Directed by: Lynne Ramsay
Starring: William Eadie (James), Tommy Flanagan (Dad), Mandy Matthews (Mum), Leanne Mullen (Margaret Anne), Kenny (John Miller), Anne Marie (Lynne Ramsay Jr), Ellen (Michelle Stewart)
Country: Scotland, British Cinema, European Cinema
Language: English (English Subs)
Genres: Misery-Depressing, Family, Teensploitation
Plot – Spoilers:
Set in early ’70s Glasgow, James lives with his family in a bleak housing estate. The trash collectors are on strike and so the place is overrun with rats, and the kids have lice. The only hope the families and James live on, is the promise of relocation to a better estate soon. Early on in the film, James and his friend play around with each other by a canal that runs nearby. The play turns feisty and James pushes the other kid deeper into the water and runs along, leaving him to drown.
The rest of the movie captures life in gloom, delinquent kids, bullying, teen sexuality and the guilt or apparent lack of it. James’ mother is aware of what he did but covers up for him, moving on with her life quite unaffected. Regarding James’ feelings on the incident, director Lynne Ramsay plays around with us, as we sit and judge him right through the movie.
When James looks out of the under-construction house into the field and briefly experiences freedom from his internalized guilt and general existence.
The gang of bullies playing with Kenny’s mouse oddly feels terrifying and the mouse’s subsequent balloon flight is darkly comical.
The movie garnered some attention for a few scenes involving underage nudity. There is one questionable scene with Anne Marie (played by the director’s niece) in a tub that you wonder – was it required? But the rest capture the innocence of growing up and the gloom of Margaret Anne’s current life and future.
Don’t be confused by the news on the telly that talks of the legendary 20-0 win by Stirling Albion. This game happened in 1984, while the movie is set in the early 1970s. IMDB lists it as a goof, which is a bit surprising given Ramsay’s attention to detail.