The War Zone

All Rights Reserved
Released: 1999

Tim Roth’s directorial debut, The War Zone, is a rather depressing drama about a dysfunctional family torn apart from a multitude of lies, incest and abuse.

The film begins as a family is settling into their new home in country side of England. Immediately, the audience gains a sense of sadness from Tom, the fifteen year old son, as a result of the family’s departure from their previous residence in London. A pregnant Mum sits on the couch next to her eighteen year old daughter Jessie sipping on wine to pass the time in their new abode. Eventually, Dad arrives home from his working class job to get cleaned up and commence dinner.

There is a sense of isolation that comes along with the country side. As Roger Ebert wrote, “It must have been something like this in medieval times, families living in isolation, cut off from neighbors, forced indoors by the weather, their animal and sexual functions not always shielded from view.” This sentence, more or less, embodies the complex ideology of the film.

Through scenes illustrating casual nudity and sexual frustration, the audience gains a sense that something is not quite right with this family. This is accomplished partly through the uniformly solid acting, especially from Tom and Jessie (Freddie Cunliffe and Lara Belmont), and through the near masterful directorial technique from Tim Roth. This is often the case when veteran actors take on the role of director, with a few exceptions of course.

This film accomplishes several points that distinguish it from the ‘Hollywood riff-raff.’ The coastal setting of the film is quite beautiful, but barren, which could be allegorical to an outward look at the family. The plot does not compromise with the emotions of the audience to any degree; which is to say that this is a blunt film. The film functions not as a didactic tale of incest; rather, it approaches the issue from the effects such a relationship can have on a family dynamic. While not quite an enjoyable watch, these points make The War Zone nothing short of extraordinary.

Rating: 7/10


  1. Definitely going to check this one out! "Sexual Frustration" Hmm could catch a couple of eyes! Thumbs up!

  2. I've seen it and it's an excellent movie!