Run time: 98 mins
In Theaters: Friday 11th June 1999
Distributed by: Lot 47
Production compaines: Portobello Pictures, Film 4, Sarah Radlyffe Productions
Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Fresh: 26 Rotten: 5
IMDB: 7.5 / 10
Director: Tim Roth
Screenwriter: Alexander Stuart
No, I'm not talking about the new version of Hamlet. I'm talking about The War Zone, a 21st century Kitchen Sink drama helmed by Brit actor-who-should-stay-an-actor Tim Roth.
Tim Roth, who somewhere along the line got tired of being the butt of European jokes in Quentin Tarantino movies has decided to move along and become a director. Rather than use his vast experience in films with good stories to write his own script, he decided to take Alexander Stuart's script for The War Zone as his first project.
The War Zone is the story of a London family who moves out into the British boondocks. Soon after moving to said boondocks, the wife (Tilda Swinton) has a third child, the dad (Ray Winstone) starts getting restless, and Tom (Freddie Cunliffe) discovers that daddy has been getting it on with his sister Jessie (Lara Belmont). Being a pathetic virgin and having Fruedian issues besides, Tom spends about two hours debating the "will I / won't I" that you can see done much better in any rendition of Hamlet, all the while videotaping Dad and Jessie getting it on in the W.W.II. Bunker nearby and struggling with his own sexual morals.
If this sounds interesting in this slightest, I have failed.
The War Zone is a movie that is so boring that I would have walked out, were I not a critic. It wastes minute after minute of time spent in utter silence as Tom watches the family do some particularly nasty thing to itself. This is just bad storytelling. It's repetitive, unpleasant, sensationalistic, and only serves as a metaphor for the first five minutes (the next time Roth want to illustrate how much time has passed, how about doing a montage instead of the same basic scene five different times).
As one would expect from a movie by an actor, the acting is above par. Swinton is especially good as the mother of a family tearing itself apart from the inside out, and Lara Belmont's presence as the sexually abused daughter is probably the only role in which any real dimension is apparent.
After boring everyone for an hour and forty-five minutes, The War Zone stops. Unlike most films that stop and don't really end, I was glad that The War Zone was over. I wanted out of the theatre. Pronto.
Face it, Mr. Roth: The Kitchen Sink drama is dead and it died for a reason. Don't try to revive it.
Off to war.