Generally favorable reviews - based on 21 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 11 Ratings

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  • Summary: For fifteen-year old Tom (Cunliffe), the war zone is at the heart of his seemingly happy middle-class family. Nothing can prepare him for the terrible secret that binds his father (Winstone) and his seventeen-year-old sister Jessie (Belmont). Isolated, confused and consumed by adolescent anger, Tom is determined to reveal the truth. (Lot 47 Films) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 21
  2. Negative: 0 out of 21
  1. 100
    Brilliant and heartbreaking, takes place in the present but is timeless.
  2. 89
    Sellbinding, distressing, and possessed of a dark and terrible beauty.
  3. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    In all respects, from choice of material to fullness of execution on every level, The War Zone is an extraordinary piece of work.
  4. 70
    We may not want another film about incest, but there's a necessity about this one that won't be denied.
  5. 68
    A brooding, stunningly realistic portrait of familial self-destruction that raises far more questions than it can possibly answer.
  6. Roth, though, is like a sociopathic arsonist, one enthralled with his ability to start little blazes and one who would even call the fire department, but wouldn't stick around to see whether anyone put them out.
  7. 40
    The ultimately uncomplicated view of sexual and emotional violence in a family is only tragic, not insightful.

See all 21 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 9
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 9
  3. Negative: 0 out of 9
  1. Feb 17, 2013
    "The War Zone,"-Tim Roth revisits emotional rawness, and makes one of the most impressive actor-to-filmmaker transitions. A searing drama about incest, "The War Zone" is a brave act by Roth. The subject is noncommercial, and the way Roth confronts it angrily, without sentiment or exploitation is guaranteed to upset those members of his audience who like their drama filtered and safe.

    They live in a comfortable cottage, warm and sheltered, life revolving around the big kitchen table. Mum (Tilda Swinton) is very pregnant. Dad (Ray Winstone) is cheery, extroverted-- good guy. Tom (Freddie Cunliffe) is a 15-year-old, silent and sad because he misses his friends in London. Jessie (Lara Belmont) is 18 years old, ripe with beauty. This looks like a cheerful story. Casual nudity when bathing and horseplay begin to give way to something far more sinister lying just below surface. The son begins to suspect of incest, piecing together evidence, but unsure of how to address the abuse.

    Roth's direction is moody and austere--it emphasizes the simple details of domestic life and the ways in which families unwittingly collude to avoid the truth. He favors scenes that appear to be about nothing: Mum talking on the phone in the background, while in the foreground Dad bounces the new baby. He lingers on these uneventful moments as if to imply that such genial routine can provide a smoke screen. One of the lingering questions is whether Swinton's character knows what's going on.

    The ensemble acting is excellent throughout--but perhaps the most impressive instance is a raw exchange between the two non-professionals, Freddie Cunliffe and Lara Belmont. As she implores him to physically abuse her by placing a cigarette lighter to her bare breast. her desire to manifest her psychic scars, and her mistaken belief in her complicity are unbearably heartbreaking. Belmont's performance is stunning and painful. Cunliffe does credit to Tom by underplaying his role, and reacting that builds to a dramatic breaking point. It's here that the film stumbles slightly, with a more predictable act of violence that doesn't deliver the feeling of authenticity we knew in earlier scenes. It's a movie moment, but it passes. The final shot of the film finds Roth regaining his poise, with a stark framing of the siblings huddled together alone in the bunker. It's framed like a painting, and held long enough that the pain and damage done to these children is apparent to every viewer in the audience. When the credits begin to roll, you are almost powerless to move.

    A father who loves his children, and wants the best for them but can't stop himself from destroying what he cherishes most.
  2. AB
    Dec 5, 2008
    Just came back from watching the movie and I was definitely pleased. I was a bit worried that I would be let down after reading some of the early reviews, my suspicious about the reviewers not understanding the character were confirmed though. Stevenson is a brilliant Frank Castle, the guy is a tank in this movie, shredding through his opposition just like a on screen manifestation of the character should. The critics complaining about the gore prove them unfit in being tasked with stepping anywhere near the film with a pencil and paper, doling out stars or thumbs. While Im afraid the film will not get the critical recognition it deservers, with the majority of critics not understanding the character, I as a fan of Castle say I'm thoroughly pleased by the work the entire cast and crew have put forth. While I agree that the movie was loyal to the source material and worth my dollars, there was one main area I think should have been retooled. Jigsaw and Jim's accent is over the top, and in the end took away from the character, especially in the case of Jim. At a glance Pros: Unapologetically Punisher Level Brutality Stevenson is a compelling Frank Castle Movie pacing is great Cons: Cliche accents Could have used some more dialogue from Frank Overall: 8/10 Bottom Line: If you are a punisher fan, you're in for a blast Expand
  3. JayH.
    Nov 22, 2008
    A sensitive subject is ably handled by Tim Roth, very well directed. The writing is excellent as well. Good cinematography. It is a bit bleak at times. Fine performances all around. Expand

See all 9 User Reviews