The Raggedy Rawney
Time Out saysHoskins' first outing as a director, a World War I tale of Romany Folk, is set somewhere unspecific in the East European theatre. Fletcher plays a drafted boy soldier who escapes the carnage by donning woman's clothing and taking to the countryside. Port in a storm is provided by a passing band of gypsies, led by the ever-the-cockney Hoskins, who mistake Fletcher for a rawney -- a traveller's word meaning a kind of vagabond female fortune-teller - and take him/her into their company. From here on in, Hoskins' darkening tale focuses on the lives of this less than merry band, with various set pieces - a traditional wedding, a ritual burial - strung together by a meandering plot concerning the group's various sexual and social rivalries and problems. The film suffers from disconcerting shifts of tone, mood, and focus, and threatens to become a case of paving over with good intentions; but its themes - the warts-and-all humanity of the travellers culture, the all pervasive destructiveness of war, the survival instinct - are delivered with sufficient sympathy and commitment to overcome the doubts.