The Bayley Film Club: Lynne Ramsay

This time we took Lynne Ramsay out of the bowl and decided to watch three of her films. This way we would have seen all her pictures (because not so log ago we watched her newest one: “You Were Never Really Here” starring Joaquin Phoenix).

Week 13
Director: Lynne Ramsay

Film 1: Ratcatcher
Film 2: Morvern Callar
Film 3: We Need to Talk About Kevin

Ratcatcher

Author: Agsy E Drapinska
Anticipation: 3
Enjoyment: 5
Retrospect: 4
Score: 12

“Ratcatcher” is Lynne Ramsay’s first film. Set in Glasgow of the ’70. With a narrow set of characters, limited number of locations and a spread storyline, Ramsay forces us to focus on the feelings. The feelings emerging in the viewers as well as the ones experienced by the characters. And what a broad spectrum that is:

Guilt; loneliness; despair; grief; curiosity; boredom; anger; vanity; selfishness; hope; naivety; joy; malice; suffering; evil; hopelessness; depression; sadness…

What we see in the “Ratcatcher” is a limbo. A community of people infinitely waiting for something. Being stuck in a temporality of a unknown length, and who despite that, refuse to act upon any kind of positive change in their lives. Assuming that with the change, that they all await – receiving of the keys to a new home – they will be handed over not only a shiny piece of metal opening the door, but a new life. Deprived of all the suffering, pain and dirt. A life in which they finally will spread their wings and grasp all opportunities. In other words, be happy. 

Oh, and there is a fantastic scene Kenny’s flying mouse – a no miss.

Morvern Callar

Author: Agsy E Drapinska
Anticipation: 3
Enjoyment: 2
Retrospect: 3
Score: 8

“Morvern Callar” is the mysterious title of Lynne Ramsay’s second film released in 2002. “Morvern Callar” is a name. It belongs to a young woman whose story we are following in the film. We meet her laying on the floor, next to her boyfriend’s body, which she is touching softly. The blood from his cut wrist is smeared on the kitchen floor, he himself lies barefoot, wearing only black jeans, in the passage between the kitchen and the main room. The regularly buzzing and flashing light in the background tells us that it’s Christmas.

In following days, we accompany Morvern, who seems to be still in shock, in her day-to-day life. She has not reported the death of her boyfriend, she has not told anyone about his suicide. She has not moved his body.

At first, I thought that her odd behaviour can be explained by grief and denial. As the story progressed tough I realised, that Morvern was, what we liked to call in highly evolved societies, a bizarre person. A “nutcase” if you prefer. Taking advantage of her boyfriend’s death, she makes impulsive and soulless decisions. Together with her friend Lanna she goes on a trip to Spain. Taking life by the horns.

I have mixed feelings about “Mornern Callar”. The picture is shocking – and honestly, if that is all you seek, you will probably like it. I myself, am looking for more than that. I also found it boring at times – I suppose I was expecting something better from Lynne Ramsay.

We Need to Talk About Kevin

Author: Agsy E Drapinska
Anticipation: 4
Enjoyment: 4
Retrospect: 4
Score: 12

“We Need to Talk About Kevin” has a storyline that reveals itself gently and in slow-motion. It was written by Ramsay and Rory Stewart Kinnear, and is based on a novel by Lionel Shriver, of the same title. The film is excellent, it’s thought provoking and will give you the creeps.

Here lies the story of motherhood, from mother’s perspective. Turns out, being a mum is not all flowers, unicorns, and hashtags #proudmom  ,and #ilovemylife . The vision of parenthood created by social media/tv is idyllic and deprived of anything evil, whereas the reality is that it also consists of episodes of sorrow, depression and prolonged tiredness. 

We discover, along with Eva (Tilda Swinton), that her newborn and later toddler son – hates her – and we wonder, can such a pure being actually hate someone? Later, it crossed my mind that he did hate her, with purity. 

We watch Kevin (Ezra Miller) grow up and becomes a teenager, who still hates his mother. Although now he also grew to hate everything else and learned some new tricks. On and all – the hateful feelings towards his mother kind of blend in. 

This story is so wicked that at some point I found myself wondering if Kevin, didn’t hate AND love his mum simultaneously. Both, in capacity beyond acceptable by our society. He wasn’t particularly nice to her, but also he did not seem to want to share her with anyone else – in which he succeeded at the end. To draw such a thin line between love and hate – Lynne Ramsay plays on our feelings like on a violin. 

I found the name Eva very fitting. The first woman, the original sinner, the first mother puts the story perspective that includes all the mothers from the beginning of time till now. Tells us that you don not need to be perfect and shows how difficult the task of upbringing can be. And finally points out that regardless of your endless efforts, you can still be a mother of a monster. Not everyone can be Maria. And at the end, we are responsible only for ourselves.

Ratcatcher

Author: NA Tonge
Anticipation: 2
Enjoyment: 4
Retrospect: 4
Score: 10

Set in 1970’s Glasgow tenements during a bin-man strike, Lynn Ramsey’s debut “Ratcatcher” portrayed the impoverished early days of James Gillespie. 

James struggles to deal with the guilt of causing the accidental death of a friend. His hopes of his escaping the coffin of urban decay surrounding him are fuelled, when he rides a bus until the end of the line; he explores a construction site for new housing surrounded by open fields. 

In the end, does James persevere with poverty in order to breath clean air on day, or does he give up and joins the other boys who were not so lucky. 

SPOILER ALERT

Morvern Callar

Author: NA Tonge
Anticipation: 3
Enjoyment: 3
Retrospect: 3
Score: 9

Morvern Callar is a mysterious adopted stacker in a Scottish town. She wakes up on christmas morning to find that her boyfriend has committed suicide, leaving her a manuscript for a novel written in his name and the remains of his bank account. 

She changes the author’s name to her’s and sends it to the publishers, chops her boyfriend’s body to pieces in the bath, buries it and uses the money to pay for a holiday in Spain, for her and her pal Lanna. 

Samantha Morton is excellent in her role as the beguiling Morvern, moving between calculating chancer and vulnerable daydreamer. 

How to pigeon-hole Morvern is anyones guess, she gives nothing away, but plays the right game in the end. 

We Need to Talk About Kevin

Author: NA Tonge
Anticipation: 3
Enjoyment: 3
Retrospect: 5
Score: 11

“We Need to Talk about Kevin” is based on Lionel Shriver’s book of the same name. The following line can be found on Shriver’s Wikipedia page:

Shriver was educated at Barnard College, Columbia University (BA, MFA). She has lived in Nairobi, Bangkok and Belfast, and currently lives in London. She has taught metalsmithing at Buck’s Rock Performing and Creative Arts Camp in New Milford, Connecticut.

The professional, educated, socially mobile and aspirational lifestyle described above, is embedded within the protagonist of the film, Eva Khatchadourian – but then taken away. 

In the pulsating opening scene, we find Eva covered head to toe in tomato juice amongst the shirtless Buñol carnival. Hypnotically blissful in the claustrophobic crowd, she hasn’t a constraint in the world. Further flashbacks show Eva and her husband Franklin in their twenties. Running in the New York summer rain, making love, shackle-less. 

Eva becomes pregnant and gives birth to Kevin and, against her insistence, they move out of the city. Eva and Kevin begin a difficult relationship – such a monumental shift from the public to the private realm brings resentment. Eva never got the chance to live in Nairobi, Bangkok or Belfast. Nevertheless, not wanting to “fail” her son, she adapts and gives motherhood a go.

They both hate each other. The reasons are obvious for the mother, but less so for the son. 

Her love, or at least a persistent and patient attempt to show love is not contrived. It is honest and unbearably sad. 

The antagonistic Kevin only shows affection towards his mother twice: once when he is ill and weak and again when he is scared.

The film is visually and audibly exciting – incorporating short sharp takes with mixture of an upbeat rockabilly music and disorientating sound effects.  

We Need to Talk about Kevin reminds the audience that not all women have the same life objectives and  that it is wrong to judge someones parenting as a ‘failure’ based solely on the outcome of their child. 

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