Lynne Ramsay conjured beautiful images out of the grimness of a 70’s Glaswegian council estate, caught in the middle of a rubbish collectors’ strike, in her breathtaking and assured debut feature.
James (William Eadie) is a sensitive, quiet boy, observant of people and the world around him, struggling with the guilt caused by an accident involving a friend as well as his discomfort with the traditional and troubling masculinity represented by his father and a local gang of older boys. His friendship with Margaret Anne (Leanne Mullen), a girl on the estate who lets the gang boys have sex with her, is platonic but only adds to his sense of disorientation. James dreams of leaving the estate for one of the big new houses being built a few miles out of town but ultimately finds himself unable to escape his circumstances, any more than he can forget about the tragedy that befalls his friend.
A touching coming of age film with a remarkable tenderness towards its flawed working class characters and an exceptional ability to make the mundane beautiful, Ramsay’s superb debut deftly contrasts urban decay with a rich interior landscape of hope and perseverance, resulting in a work that's both raw and deeply poetic.