Mrs Ratcliffe’s Revolution. Heurgh. Good god, y’all. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Hmm. No. Doesn’t really work in this instance. But in a week that veers so wildly between the class of Michael Clayton, the nigh-perfect heartwarming silliness of Kenny and the godawful testosterone-fest of War, it’s a shame to just have to come out and admit that the worst film of the week is this British effort.
Working neither as a drama with laughs or a comedy with a point, Mrs Racliffe’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, not convinced by these special effects.’ Whether ‘12’ is the certificate or the prediction of how many people will bother seeing this is debatable: indeed, 12 seems like an over-estimate. If this is really the best 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.