directed by Steve Barron
Steve Barron’s oddball take on Kafka’s masterpiece is as perfectly Irish as you can get; a film so odd and endearing that it makes you long for something you never even knew existed. Peter Postelwaithe is perfect as Hubert, who, after coming home from the pub one night wakes up to find himself a victim of cosmic tomfoolery. It seems that poor Hubert has transformed into a lowly rat. It’s Kafka meets the Emerald Isle, and the result is a finely madcap fable that seems to get the whimsical edge of all things Irish. Steve Barron struck it big with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the most successful independent film ever made up to that point and still one of the finest comic book movies ever made, but his wonderfully textured and visually rich handling of Wesley Burrowes’s imaginative script resonates on an entirely different level than a shadow (remember? I coined that little gem of a term in my TMNT review. Jealous?) of ass kicking amphibians. It’s as fun as anything you’re liable to find, and because they filmed some of Rat just around the block from the Dean Swift, the pub in which I labored nearly a decade ago, I got to poke around whilst they were filming. Don’t think that my nostalgia has clouded my judgment, BTW, but I also got lost in the friggin Irish countryside trying to find the location of some action film being shot around the same time. Though I never found it, I discovered later that the film was, in fact, Reign of Fire. You can imagine my disappointment.