War Zone (1999)

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Avg Rating: 4.4 / 5. Voted: 28

No one cared thus far. Do you?

Year: 1999
Directed by: Tim Roth
Starring: Freddie Cunliffe (Tom), Lara Belmont (Jessie), Tilda Swinton (Mother), Ray Winstone (Father)
Country: UK
Language: English (English Subtitles)
Runtime: 01:34:45
Genres: Misery-Depressing, Incest, Old-Young, Domestic Abuse, Rape-Sexual-Violence against Women, Voyeur, Siblings-Family

Plot – Spoilers:
The War Zone is an incredibly sad but beautifully directed movie by Tim Roth – his only directorial venture. When you’re done with it, it will stay with you not just for its content but the way it has been presented, and will make you wish Tim Roth directed more movies.

Tom is a teenager who’s recently moved with his Dad, Mum and elder sister, Jessie to gloomy Devon from London. The weather and his family life ensures that he can barely keep his eyes open and he looks depressed for the most part. Mum who is pregnant delivers a baby girl en route to the hospital following an accident from which they all emerge unscathed. The baby enlivens things only mildly and the family continues to sit around in silence, a silence that is often wary when Dad is around. While Mum and Dad often engage in pleasant conversation there is something stirring beneath it all and she often is quick to attend to his needs, like sponging him when he gets home, almost like she knows he is best kept in a good frame of mind.

All this would seem like the fairly normal lives that a lot of people are used to growing up with, but there’s something more gut-wrenching that Tom is about to discover. He is a budding voyeur and soon stumbles on a scene that rips the whole lot apart.

The movie is based on the book, The War Zone by Alexander Stuart, a book that initially won the Whitbread Best Novel Award, but was later rejected after one of the judges threatened to quit. The movie version similarly has polarized opinions over the years, with critical views often ignoring the depth and sincerity with which it was made. Roth himself at the time of the movie’s release said that he had chosen to make this his debut directorial venture because he felt the story needed to be dramatized on screen by someone who knew what was right and wrong about it. He later named his grandfather as having abused him for years as a child. Incidentally, this granddad had also abused Roth’s father when he was a child.

Favourite Scenes:
1. Until Tom witnesses his father sodomizing Jessie, he often accuses Jessie of “allowing” it. To see her crying through it shakes up things for him and though he immediately doesn’t get what’s been happening, it does move him and perhaps leads him to the path he eventually takes.

2. The confrontation with Dad:
Jessie whimpering with her arms covering her ears while Dad goes into denial and self-righteous rage is so powerful, you could end up watching it like Tom, with your eyes half closed.

3. The final shot of Tom closing the door of the war shelter:
There are many ways to look at this. The sad and unfortunate possibility is that Tom is going to take over his Dad’s role and begin an incestuous relationship with Jessie. For Jessie, who’s been damaged for years, this would perhaps seem like a natural transfer of power from father to son.

We wish for heroic and happy endings but incest and abuse rarely do and The War Zone and Tim Roth aren’t scared to walk down the tough and risky path.

11 thoughts on “War Zone (1999)

  • July 24, 2020 at 1:48 am

    This is a brilliant film! So deep and yet incredibly simplistic…. Honey Bunny would be very proud.

  • August 5, 2020 at 12:19 am

    Worth watching, the acting is good.

  • November 3, 2020 at 9:12 am

    Beautifully executed. A realistic look at how one person destroys the lives of others and the way you see it manifest in the different people it effects. The reaction of each character was such a clinical response, it begs the question did the writer or director have personal experience with this type of trauma? This will be remembered as one of the most beautiful and powerful films I’ve ever watched.

  • December 27, 2020 at 10:18 pm

    toms fucking annoying downer borderline seemsretarded yet noone ever brings it up?
    i found the movie ok enoughot watch to the end and not egret it but overall suregood ating and the sodomy sister has nice teen tits to look at still meh 4/10 but thanks eum for a great site.i just like to b honest wth my feedback…each to there own etc

    • February 21, 2021 at 8:50 am

      Holy shit, you’re so dumb you should be required by law to wear a helmet… and a drool cup.

      Stick with the August Underground movies, kid… they’re definitely more your speed.

      In the meantime, hush up and let the adults talk.

    • May 1, 2021 at 5:29 pm

      Hello there! If you have a problem with a character that a storyteller has built try to look at your own life for once. You see, even with such a digital distance between you and me, I know that you as a character in your own life story is a fucking piss of a context, full of shit and filled to the brim with pretension. Yet, I can’t do anything about it. So, the moral of the story is that we might have our own reservations about other peoples’ art, but all we can do is fucking accept it for what it is and try to understand why they have chosen to portray it that way.

      You know what i mean “iliketwitedshit”, ya know what, do lemme know about the “twited” shit you like, I wanna check some of it out sometime…

  • January 20, 2021 at 2:13 pm

    In England, this is what the average family looks like (apart from the hotness of the daughter of course)

    • June 22, 2021 at 10:49 pm

      she looks like a bloated corpse but if that tickles your pickle

  • September 2, 2021 at 4:59 am

    Now that… that was effed up.

  • October 12, 2021 at 12:21 am

    she got nice titties tho


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