Nil By Mouth (1997)

by stronged

STARS: ***

Dir. Gary Oldman

Surviving in London’s working class district demands a resilience and determination in order to keep afloat to the constant barrage of personalities that come your way. One of those personalities, a force to be reckoned with, is Ray. Ray is the head of his family which is made up of Valerie – Rays wife; their young daughter; and Valerie’s younger brother Billy. As a result of stilling Rays stash of drugs Billy is thrown out of the house to fend for himself. Ray soon spirals out of control, reaping a path of destruction through the entire family.

Gary Oldman’s only screenwriting/directorial credit. If there was ever going to be one film to make this is the one. An admirable effort to bring to light social realist issues that are forever present in our society relating to domestic violence. Oldman skillfully crafts a narrative which both shows the reality of the characters situation as well as portraying them as true humans. There is a humanity in this film that is unflinching. It comes at you like a sledge hammer and you must ingest the impact of such information otherwise you are not watching the film.

This film is not for the faint of hearted. Nor is it for viewers who are after a light-hearted Hollywood family film. This is a contemporary kitchen sink drama that shows a families explicit and implicit issues, warts an’ all.

I’m a big fan of Oldman. I have been for a long time now. Another great film related to him is called Romeo Is Bleeding (1993). An absolute winner. Even his latest work in the new Batman franchise portraying Jim Gordon he acheives a sterling performance, both heartwarming and accessible. It’s also nice to see him out of the villain role that he seems to be cast in with most projects.