The War Zone (1999)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBItaly/United Kingdom, 1999.  Channel Four Films, Fandango, Mikado Film, Portobello Pictures.  Screenplay by , based on his novel.  Cinematography by .  Produced by , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .   European Film Awards 1999.  Toronto International Film Festival 1999.   

An English family leave the bustle of London to live in a quiet, rural home in the countryside. Father () does his best to improve the house while his wife (Tilda Swinton) tends to their newborn baby, leaving their daughter to make new friends and their son to be alone all the time with his sulking self. Eventually, the son realizes that in between the various boys she is dating, his sister is actually carrying on a sexual affair with their father, and his inability to do anything about it nearly tears him apart. Tim Roth has created a searing, powerful look at the destruction of a close-knit group of people, but he sets it up to be so bleak and depressing from the beginning that even incest doesn’t make the film travel in any particular direction, downwards or otherwise. Hollywood movie fans will notice an early performance by a very young (then billed as Colin J. Farrell, thank you very much), while fans of the magnificent Swinton will enjoy the fact that she continues to be one of the most fascinating and vibrant actors on the international screen. It’s got a lot going for it, but requires too much patience from its audience to sit through dimly lit images and sadsack people before finally getting to its climax.

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