The War Zone - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The War Zone Reviews

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½ June 14, 2016
Roth's directorial debut is a deeply unsettling film that successfully captures the devastating impact of incest. This frank, realistic depiction allows the viewer to vicariously feel the ambivalence and tempestuous feelings associated with the activity leaving the viewer feel just as violated and confused as the film's protagonist. Roth's skillful direction, and forceful performances from the cast (particularly Winstone) create a disturbing, powerful film that lingers and haunts long after it's over.
Note: An NC-17 rating is better suited for this film.
March 15, 2016
A great picture, theme and a great movie from Tim Roth's directable debut. A gritty movie that would have you on the edge of your seat.
May 22, 2015
This film is brilliantly conceived from all aspects. It is also so brutally dark that it makes nearly impossible to watch. But, it's artistry cannot be ignored. I always expected Tim Roth to pursue more directing. His directorial debut is bold, realistic and impossible to forget.
September 13, 2014
Not a easy movie to watch because of the subject matter but well acted and shot. It is a pity Tim Roth has not directed another movie as he does an excellent job
½ September 6, 2014
Winstone and Swinton are good, but the film is a bore.
June 17, 2014
Not for the faint of heart, but rather powerful.
Super Reviewer
April 23, 2014
It's incredibly rare to see an actor's first feature as a director be so incredibly disturbing and touching on a very controversial subject such as incest and sexual violence. And the fact that it does so in such a subtle and complex way, with more and more information gradually being revealed as the movie goes on, weaving an even deeper and more complex tale of incest, makes it all the more disturbing and harrowing to watch. The film slowly builds up to its natural climax by, like I said, slowly revealing more bits of information, each bit worse than the last, until you get to the climax where the father does a pretty goddamn despicable thing and how that pushes Tom to take action in order to protect Jessie, his mother, and his newborn sister. The acting reflects this very subtle and complex storytelling. Though I did find Freddie Cunliffe to be a little lifeless and wooden, yes I realize his character was supposed to be unemotional but he doesn't quite pool it off. See Paul Dano in Little Miss Sunshine for how to do an unemotional performance properly. But Lara Belmont is absolutely incredible in this film and her performance is heartbreaking and multi-layered at the same time. Who knows how many years she's been sexually abused by her father, but the way she acts towards him during the climax of the film implies that it's been going on for quite a while. She's just incredible here and I'm surprised that her career hasn't taken off after this, she hasn't been attached to many high-profile projects in her career. And that really surprises me, because with her performance here, it should've made her a star. Maybe she didn't really want the hassle of being famous. Still, she is the heart and soul of this film and her performance will haunt you for a while. The cinematography in the film is certainly lacking, as I'm assuming the film didn't have a large budget, but it's certainly a minor issue. I think there'll be those that won't watch the movie just because of the way it looks, but it is an excellent drama with tremendous acting and I'd definitely recommend it.
August 1, 2013
Really wanted to like this more given Tim Roth's involvement, but not happening.
March 19, 2013
"The War Zone,"-Tim Roth revisits emotional rawness, and makes one of the most impressive actor-to-filmmaker transitions. A searing drama about incest, "The War Zone" is a brave act by Roth. The subject is noncommercial, and the way Roth confronts it -- angrily, without sentiment or exploitation -- is guaranteed to upset those members of his audience who like their drama filtered and safe.

Roth's direction is moody and austere--it emphasizes the simple details of domestic life, and the ways in which families unwittingly collude to avoid the truth. They live in a comfortable cottage on the countryside, sheltered from city living, where life revolves around the kitchen table. Roth favors scenes that appear to be about nothing: Mum (Tilda Swinton) talking on the phone in the background, while in the foreground Dad (Ray Winstone), bounces the new baby. He lingers on these uneventful moments -- as if to imply that such genial routine can provide a smoke screen. One of the lingering questions is whether Swinton's character knows what's going on. The son begins to suspect of incest, piecing together evidence, but unsure of how to address the abuse.

The performances are excellent throughout--but perhaps the most impressive scene is a raw exchange between the two non-professionals, Freddie Cunliffe and Lara Belmont. As she implores him to physically abuse her by placing a cigarette lighter to her bare breast. Her desire to manifest her psychic scars, and her mistaken belief in her complicity are unbearably heartbreaking. Belmont's performance is stunning and painful. Cunliffe does credit to Tom by underplaying his role, and reacting that builds to a dramatic breaking point. The final shot of the film is of the siblings huddled together alone in the bunker. It's framed like a painting, and held long enough that the pain and damage done to these children is apparent to every viewer in the audience. When the credits begin to roll, you are almost powerless to move. A father who loves his children, and wants the best for them -- but can't stop himself from destroying what he cherishes most.
February 17, 2013
Step aside, Mystic River. Move over, Se7en. You don't know what an uncompromisingly depressing experience at the movies is until you've seen The War Zone, a compellingly naturalistic, powerfully acted, wholly disheartening 98 minutes.
January 17, 2013
Though I applaud the exploration of provocative subject matter. The film's slow pace and somewhat lifeless performances took away some of the impact for me.
December 5, 2012
Bleak & Harrowing, Tim Roth's directorial debut
November 15, 2012
Great family drama with first-rate performances all around. One of the best of 1999.
October 29, 2012
My roommate bought it we watched part of it but it can be a little awkward with the wrong company. I still have to see the rest.
½ August 23, 2012
Beyond disturbing, yet sterling in artistic intrepidity.
Super Reviewer
June 21, 2012
A tight knit English family moves from London to the isolated Devon countryside where the formative young son accidentally discovers that Dad is seriously violating Sis ... about the hardest look at the inner workings of dysfunctional family politics as I've ever seen. Not for everyone by any stretch. Roth's directorial premiere is eyeball scorching, gut churning stuff.
June 10, 2012
This is a very bleak and harrowing work, that feels far too real. It keeps a nice tension as we do not initially understand what his father may be doing, until halfway through it is blatantly and disturbingly clear.
Super Reviewer
May 3, 2012
Accusations of incest surface in an isolated family.
This is a remarkably dark drama. The pace is slow and the mood is always heavy. While I understand that the story and subject matter fit the dreary atmosphere, I couldn't help but think that I'd rather slit my wrists than continue watching.
There is little energy behind most of the performances, which often amount to pensive, angry looks in steady shots. This is true save Ray Winstone, whose character has life and a humanity despite his depravity. The one compelling moment is in the third act when Tom finally confronts his father with his suspicions. Winstone gets to show off his talent, but the rest of the cast is left in the miasma of the film's heavy climate.
½ April 21, 2012
Well acted but far to bleak and depressing for me
March 18, 2012
Psycho relationship in a family. Extremely dark material. A viewer during a depressed spirit should not see this.
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