Retrospective: Lynne Ramsay

GASMA_2017For me, my introduction to Lynne Ramsay began in a stuffy classroom, surrounded by fresh faced university students ready for their adventures into the world of cinema: The glitz of 20s Hollywood, the hard-boiled noir movies of the 40s, anything with subtitles (because ultimately that means it’s good, right!?) What we weren’t expecting was GASMAN (1998). A fifteen-minute trudge through Glasgow, as Da and his children Lynne and Steve walk the secluded railroad tracks to a Christmas party at a local pub. I sighed, thinking the next three years would be me, trudging through this course, wishing I was in the local pub! Fifteen-minutes later and I was mesmerised, in awe and really grateful for my Dad’s Scottish accent and therefore my ability to be able to understand what was going on. Looking around the room, it was clear some of my peers weren’t quite as lucky.

What follows in Ramsay’s short, is Lynne’s realisation of her father’s infidelity, as they encounter two other children that also refer to him as “Da”. Ramsey’s style was something I’d never seen before. The opening of GASMAN is a beautifully disembodied collage, slowly coming together to create a whole, yet still fragmented family. As well as her directorial hit, adaptation of Lionel Shriver’s WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN (2011). Ramsay’s most recent film, YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE (2017) won Ramsay and Joaquin Phoenix awards for Best Screenplay and Best Actor respectively at Cannes this year, and closes the Cambridge Film Festival. Ramsay, no stranger to Cannes also won the Prix de Jury for her 1996 film LITTLE DEATHS and for GASMAN in 1998.

…an almost moreish sense of unease…

Based on the Jonathan Ames’ novella of the same title, Ramsay’s newest film follows Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) a veteran whose devoted himself to the rescue of sex-traffic workers until one rescue mission goes wrong. Ramsay’s focus still remains on teenagers and children, something that has been consistent in her filmmaking. Ramsay’s ability to speak through the silences between words is something she does remarkably well, her use of sound and music is something consistently praised by critics and YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE is no exception. The rich textures, candid visual style and sound of Ramsay’s films are distinctly her, and often create an almost moreish sense of unease.

Ramsay continues to carve a way for herself and her unique style
into a more mainstream market and to a wider audience, but she will always be, for me, the first female filmmaker who made me realise what I was missing out on after being saturated with a male dominated film collection my entire life, and subsequently what the world was missing out on. 2017 has been home to several ground-breaking debuts from some fantastic female directors, actors and writers. Although, with still a way to go, this year so far has shown that the clout of the voices coming from female filmmakers is slowly, but surely, getting louder and stronger.


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