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Mrs Ratcliffe's Revolution


Stars: Catherine Tate, Iain Glen, Katharina Thalbach, Heike Makatsch, Brittany Ashworth, Jessica Barden, Nigel Betts, Robert Lowe

Director: Bille Eltringham

Based on the story of a real family who went from Bolton to East Germany and back again, this vehicle for TV comedienne Catherine Tate can't decide whether it's a light-hearted but sometimes tense escape drama or a farce that might have been made in 1968, the year in which the film is set.

Frank (Glen, with the film's most considered performance) is the head of the Bingley Communist Party. Seeking a more idealistic life, he journeys with his wife Dorothy (Tate) and two daughters (Ashworth, Barden) across Europe to East Germany.

Once there, they move into their rats' nest apartment and have to pay their landlady (Thalbach) for every service (like killing rats); she stashes the money away in her artificial leg.

While Frank settles into his new job as an English teacher, and succumbs to Communist ideology, Dorothy slides into a nightmare of rationing, censorship and joining 'the most spied-upon people in history'. But then she meets young people eager to escape...

Tate is straitjacketed in this role and struggles to make an impact. Most of the other performances, especially the East German characters, are over the top in the style of a British farce of the time. It just doesn't work. The 12A certificate is a bit of a mystery, unless there was a swear-word that I missed.

David Quinlan

UK/Hungary 2007. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Technicolor.
103 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 23 Sep 2007