The War Zone

Director: Tim Roth

Institute History

  • 1999 Sundance Film Festival


The molten emotional power that flows from Tim Roth’s directorial debut carries multiple messages that sear one’s soul. Yet it also
faithfully portrays one of the harshest aspects of the relationship between children and parents. Based on an acclaimed novel by Alexander
Stuart, The War Zone is an often-troubling exposition on family dynamics and the dysfunction that bubbles beneath the surface. Award-winning actors Ray Winstone and Tilda Swinton, along with complete newcomers Lara Belmont and Freddie Cunliffe, give such incredibly deep and intense performances that one is definitely riveted (almost painfully so) to the screen.
The family has just resettled in the Devon countryside from London, and fifteen-year-old Tom is bored and lonely, while his eighteen-year-old sister, Jessie, seems much more comfortable in the new surroundings. When “mum” gives birth to the family’s third child, despite a near-tragic car accident on the way to the
hospital, all appears to be well. But this happy event is shattered when Tom stumbles upon a horrific scene, and in short order the appearance of normality is unmasked, and any
semblance of trust and kinship is threatened.
Director Roth designs an inexorably
desperate drama that questions the very fabric of family life even as it eschews pat explanations or psychological reduction. With an
extraordinary feel for the banality of real-life evil and an almost-claustrophobic jolt of
narrative truth, The War Zone stays with you long after you have left the theatre.

Tim Roth, Director
Tim Roth first came to American attention when he acted in Reservoir Dogs. He made his studio feature debut in MGM’s Rob Roy, which earned him Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations. His latest Film is Giuseppe Tornatore’s The Legend of the Pianist on the Ocean. Other film credits include Everyone Says I Love You , Vincent and Theo, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, GRIDLOCK’d Little Odessa, and Pulp Fiction. The War Zone is his directorial debut.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

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