Michael Leyshon
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Deviant sexualities and dark ruralities in The War Zone
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This chapter brings together work on rural landscapes and identity, the lives of young people in rural areas and the representation of rural youth in fiction to construct a critical analysis of Tim Roth's film The War Zone. Set in north Devon, the film reconfigures the rural as aberrant, heteroclitic and sinister in several linked ways. First, it challenges the lay discourse which positions the countryside as a safe place in which to grow up by portraying it as alienating and marginalising. Second, it resists the popular image of rural sexuality as playful, innocent fumbling in a hayloft by foregrounding Tom Holland and Jessie's exploration of their (deviant) sexual identities. Finally, by using as its setting the bleak landscape of north Devon, it envisions a contemporary alternative to a historically constituted version of rural England as a green and pleasant land.

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