The War Zone (1999)
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Critic Reviews for The War Zone
Gifted Brit actor Tim Roth makes a feature directing debut with this well-acted, uncompromisingly depressing drama about a working-class family torn apart by incest and abuse.
Potent, depressing incest tale; excellent work by all four actors.
[Tim Roth] takes a great risk in confronting a sensitive subject with such brazen matter-of-factness.
Audience Reviews for The War Zone
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.
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.
A grim, searing depiction of incest and an overall unforgettable film which details a loving family of five and how three of them (all except the newborn baby and mother) quietly battle a troubling secret that threatens to rip them asunder. This film is paced to perfection, expertly acted, and masterfully concluded by director Tim Roth (a fantastic actor in his own right as well), and leaves absolutely nothing out. The atmosphere is appropriately dark, complementing the gray and rainy setting of the story. It does fall under "not a film for everyone" territory, it's definitely an emotionally draining experience that covers an issue only lightly touched on in cinema before. Kudos to Roth for bringing an uncompromisingly brutal and bleak story like this to the screen - it's the stroke of a genius film-maker.
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