Girish Shambu at The Current:
The works of great artists have a way of reactivating fundamental questions about the nature and potential of an art form. In the case of filmmaker Lynne Ramsay, these questions revolve around a word that has been used routinely to describe her cinematic style: poetic. Right from the start, her films have quietly suggested that there is an underlying tension in the way we think about cinema and its possibilities. Is poetic style in cinema in opposition to narrative? Do poetry and realism occupy opposite poles?
Few filmmakers have been greeted at the beginnings of their careers with the kind of critical celebration that Ramsay was. Her short films Small Deaths (1995) and Gasman (1997) both won prizes at the Cannes Film Festival; Kill the Day (1996) was awarded the jury prize at the world’s largest festival devoted to short films, held in Clermont-Ferrand, France; and her debut feature, Ratcatcher (1999), premiered at Cannes to rapturous reviews. Struck by the thoughtful assurance of her directorial style, critics remarked on how she seemed to have arrived with a distinctive cinematic vision fully formed. At that moment, she was not yet thirty.