The Rat Catcher Review: Starring Ralph Fiennes, Richard Ayoade, and Rupert Friend, directed by Wes Anderson, this adaptation of Roald Dahl’s tale doesn’t resort to easy answers.
Who did we catch in the rat hunt? Where are the rats? Why are they invisible? It’s best to leave some questions unanswered in ‘The Rat Catcher,’ the third installment in director Wes Anderson’s series of short films based on Roald Dahl’s stories for Netflix. A fantastic story made in less than 17 minutes, ‘The Rat Catcher’ is a gem of a film, meticulously crafted by a director in full control of his art.
The Rat Catcher Review
Ralph Fiennes delivers a chilling performance as a professional exterminator sent by the health office to rid a local hunter of a rat infestation. After his turns in ‘The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar’ and ‘The Swan,’ he also makes a cameo appearance as the author himself. Here, a reporter (Richard Ayoade, mostly providing deadpan commentary) and a mechanic (Rupert Friend) stand by in the bushes, watching how goes about his business. But a strategic approach doesn’t work – the rats don’t touch the poisonous bait.
‘The Rat Catcher’ is a grand example of a daring blend with a producer’s perspective, seamlessly merging with Wes Anderson’s trademark style. Robert Yeoman’s magnificent cinematography fills this fictional world with confidence. Everything else is secure in Anderson’s hands, where the story takes an unsettling turn without solving easy answers. Note that the physical appearance is exactly like a rat, as he believes that imitating their behavior is essential to catch them. A thread of empathy runs deep, suggesting that the rat catcher is fundamentally a marginalized and ostracized person who can never overcome his social-economic obstacles. He has been hunting rats for so long that he has become like them, forced into hiding.
Final Thoughts ‘The Rat Catcher’
Anderson is also adept at integrating stop-motion animation for a belatedly poignant effect. He grants permission for an abrupt shift in tone, a hallmark of a director who always keeps his audience at a distance, encouraging them to be patient, ask the right questions, and never rush to conclusions. The dialogues are as sharp as ever, for instance: “Rat Catcher: This isn’t sewer work, is it? / Mechanic: No, this isn’t sewer work. / Rat Catcher: Tricky job, sewer work. / Mechanic: Really? I shouldn’t think so.”
‘The Rat Catcher’ operates like a sleight of hand, beautifully executed with Anderson’s trademark composed frames and minimal mis-en-scène. In the end, suddenly departs without any further plan. He has left both the reporter and the mechanic disappointed. Somewhere, a line has been drawn. The heap of chaff remains the same.