Mrs Ratcliffe's Revolution (DVD)

Working neither as a drama with laughs or a comedy with a point, Mrs Ratcliffe’s Revolution takes a fascinating true story and then has no idea what to do with it. The story is based on the life of Brian Norris who, in 1968, packed his family and belongings into a Russian built car and ‘emigrated’ — or possibly defected? — from Bolton to communist Berlin.

The film turns Norris et al into the Ratcliffe family. Well, I say family, I actually mean ‘collection of allegedly amusing sterotypes’: blinkered lecturer father Frank (Glen), dowdy, put-upon mother Dorothy (Tate), nubile teen daughter Alex (Ashworth) and annoying swotty 11-year old daughter Mary (Barden). Along with Dorothy’s nervous brother Philip ( Betts), they leave the north of England for the east of Germany.

Things go rapidly pear-shaped, the family falls apart, yadda yadda yadda and Dorothy finds untapped strength and resolve to get them out of the country. Which she does, in a final balloon scene that would have had producers at the Children’s Film Foundation saying: ‘Hmm, actually, we're not convinced by these special effects.’ Whether ‘12’ is the certificate or the prediction of how many people will bother purchasing this is debatable: indeed, 12 seems like an over-estimate. On the big screen it looked like a bad TV programme. On the TV screen, it just looks bad. If this is indicative of the best projects the UK Film Council can find, it’s probably time to close them down, have a nice cup of tea and rethink the whole British film industry.

EXTRAS * The film's trailer which, remarkably, makes the film look amusing. Coo, they're a clever bunch these editors...

Neil Davey is a freelance writer who specialises in things you can do sitting down, such as travelling, eating, drinking, watching films, interviewing famous people and playing video games. (And catching the occasional salmon.) Neil is the author of two Bluffer's Guides (Chocolate, and Food, both of which make lovely presents, ahem), and, along with Stuart O'Connor, is a co-founder of Screenjabber. Neil also writes / has written for The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, Square Mile, Delicious Magazine, Sainsbury's Magazine, Foodism, Escapism, Hello! and Square Meal.

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