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Film / The War Zone

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The War Zone is a 1999 British adaptation of the Alexander Stuart novel of the same name, and the directorial debut of Tim Roth. The film follows Tom, the fifteen year old son of a middle-class London family who relocate to Devon. Alienated and friendless, Tom struggles to find his place in their new home, until he comes across a secret between his elder sister and their father. Starring Ray Winstone as Dad, and Tilda Swinton as Mum.



  • Abusive Parents: Dad is engaging in an incestuous relationship with his own daughter, which she plainly doesn't want, and he is in denial about. He later hits Tom for confronting him about it, and it's heavily implied he may have started abusing his newborn daughter.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Evoked but not played straight, in the scene where Tom confronts Jessie with photos of her with Dad. She kicks him off her and she’s revealed to be naked, while he is wearing only boxers. She strongly hints to him that he’s jealous of Dad, but whether he is or not is left unspoken.
  • Cool Big Sis: Tom wants Jessie to be this, but while she’s older than him, she’s smaller, more damaged and more vulnerable.
  • Downer Ending/No Ending: After fatally stabbing Dad, Tom runs off to the nearby bunker, where Jessie silently offers support. Traumatized by everything that has happened, Tom asks Jessie as to what they should do, to which she gives no answer. The movie ends with Tom closing the bunker door, while the camera pans out. cut to credits.
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  • No Name Given: Mum and Dad are simply known as Mum and Dad.
  • Parental Incest: Tom finds out that Dad is raping Jessie. It's left ambiguous as to how long the relationship has gone on for.
  • Patricide: In response to everything Dad has done, his utter denial of his abuse, and his threat to put him in care, Tom stabs him in the gut, and lets him bleed to death.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Dad has one of these as soon as Tom says to him 'I saw you fucking my sister.'
  • Wham Line: 'Why don’t you do it like you do it with Mum?' This tells Tom that not only is Dad having sex with Jessie; it’s also that he only ever sodomises her.