Mrs Ratcliffes Revolution

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner27/09/2007

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 102 mins

Enjoyable comedy drama with a sharp script and superb performances, though it loses its focus towards the end.

What's it all about?
Directed by Billie Eltringham and loosely based on a true story, Mrs Ratcliffes Revolution stars Catherine Tate as Dorothy Ratcliffe, a 1968 Yorkshire housewife who's less than thrilled when her communist husband Frank (Iain Glen) lands a job as an English teacher in East Berlin and drags his entire family behind the Iron Curtain, burning their passports once they get there.

Deciding to make the best of it, the family adjusts as best they can: teenage rebel Alex (Brittany Ashworth) tries to corrupt the local youth, whilst hero-worshipping youngest daughter Mary (Jessica Barden) proves a proper little Stalinist in the making and agrees to spy on her own family. Meanwhile, shy Uncle Phillip (Nigel Betts) discovers both romance and an artistic outlet, while Dorothy unwittingly helps a young boy (Robert Lowe) to cross the border and soon finds herself caught up in an underground movement of her own.

The Good
Catherine Tate is great as Mrs Ratcliffe, delivering a fully-rounded performance and creating a character you really care about. Iain Glen is equally good, portraying Frank as a man with a lot of warmth and integrity when it would be easy to make him either a buffoonish character or the hard-edged villain of the piece.

The supporting cast are good too, particularly Ashworth and Barden, though Katharina Thalbach's mercenary neighbour is too much of a comic caricature and seems out of place. The film also looks amazing, with colourful photography and impressive production design work throughout.

The Bad
The film's biggest problem is that it loses its focus at around the halfway point as the story shifts away from Mary's point of view. However, it does rally for a crowd-pleasing climax at the end.

Worth seeing?
In short, Mrs Ratcliffes Revolution is an enjoyable, well acted comedy drama that's well worth seeking out, despite its limited release.

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Content updated: 23/08/2019 14:00

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