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February 16 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm£5
Lynne Ramsay / 1999 / UK/France / 94 mins / cert 15
Tickets £5 available here
(limited number available on the door)
During the Glasgow bin strike of the 1970s, an adolescent boy living in poor housing struggles to reconcile his dreams and his guilt with the abjection that surrounds him. Things look up when he discovers a newly-built housing development on the outskirts of town. A universal tale of childhood longing, confusion, loss and redemption.
Glasgow in 1973 has some housing schemes with the poorest housing conditions in western Europe, such as no running hot water, no bathing facilities and no indoor toilet. The city is mid-way through a major re-development program, demolishing these schemes and re-housing the tenants in new modern estates. The problems in these schemes are somewhat compounded by the binmen going on strike, creating an additional health hazard and a breeding ground for rats. James is a 12-year-old boy, growing up in one of these schemes, which is gradually emptying as the re-housed tenants move out. James, with the rest of his family, two sisters, one older, one younger, his mum and heavy-drinking father, patiently waits to be re-housed.
Something of a misfit, James has only two close friends, Margaret Anne, an older girl whose need to be loved often leads her into ill-advised sexual episodes with the neighborhood boys, and Kenny, a quirky half-bright kid who loves animals but isn’t sure what went wrong when he tried to send his pet mouse into space.
In her breathtaking and assured debut feature, Lynne Ramsay creates a haunting evocation of a troubled Glasgow childhood. The non-professional cast are uniformly excellent, particularly the boy playing the main character, and the film always feels rooted in the real lives of real people continually up against it. Lynne Ramsay’s great strength as a filmmaker is an ability to recreate the world as seen through her characters’ eyes, capturing a naturalism of the child actors that some film makers could only dream of.
This is not just a gritty portrayal of survival in the brutal back streets of Glasgow, it is a powerful evocation of the uncertainty and surreal nature of childhood.