movie film review | chris tookey


1999 - Twentieth Century Fox - all rights reserved
  Ravenous Review
Tookey's Rating
5 /10
Average Rating
5.00 /10
Boyd: Guy Pearce, Colqhoun/Ives: Robert Carlyle, Cleaves: David Arquette
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Directed by: Antonia Bird
Written by: Ted Griffin

Released: 1999
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 101

Ravenous starts out as a variation on Dances With Wolves, with Guy Pearce (pictured right, playing a vegetarian officer sent to a wild, military outpost in mid-nineteenth century California. Here, he meets a small collection of misfits (cue comedy), whose offbeat existence is upset by the arrival of a Scotsman (Robert Carlyle, pictured left) who claims to be one of three survivors from a wagon-train marooned in a cave, up in the mountains...
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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From here on, the proceedings turn into Grand Guignol on a horrific scale. In the Sixties, this kind of story would have been shot on a shoe-string and called Barking Mad Flesh-Eaters Go Californian. Ravenous is utterly believable, as long as you can swallow the following five things:

(1) Cannibalism is good for the health. It can cure TB, impotence, and deep wounds without leaving a trace. The only physical side-effect, if you happen to be Robert Carlyle, is that it gives you staring eyes, the urge to dress up like Fagin and perform the hand-jive in moments of excitement.

(2) Eating people is more addictive than heroin. Once you have tasted human flesh, the Betty Ford Clinic is out of the question. The only way to stop yourself dining on your colleagues is to throw yourself on to a mantrap. Though painful for you, this will greatly amuse bloodthirsty members of the audience.

(3) Cannibalism is a metaphor for The American Dream, Capitalism and Male Domination. This may seem far-fetched as well as over-earnest, not least in a script that sporadically plays the whole thing for laughs, but British director Antonia Bird is from the school of left-wing feminism which teaches that audiences are to be lectured, even when least expecting it.

(4) Michael Nyman (from the films of Peter Greenaway) is a fine composer, and his collaboration with Damon Albarn (from the pop group Blur) is more than usually inspired. The use of intrusive music to dissipate tension, destroy period authenticity and render potentially suspenseful moments ridiculous is especially brilliant.

(5) Nineteenth century people spoke exactly like twentieth century people.

Okay, okay, this is a terrible movie, but so outrageous in its over-confidence that - for those with a taste for gushing gore and a grudging respect for actors willing to chew not only the carpet but each other - it falls headlong into the category "so bad it's good".

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