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A morality tale of xenophobia, religious prejudice, mob violence, poverty, and their effect on two children in Liverpool during the Depression. When a shipyard closes, Liam and Teresa's dad loses his job. Liam, who's about 8, making his first Holy Communion, gets a regular dose of fire and brimstone at church. Teresa, about 13, has a job as a maid to the Jewish family that owns the closed shipyard. The lady of that house is having an affair, and Teresa becomes an accomplice. Liam stutters terribly, especially when troubled. Dad comes under the sway of the Fascists, who blame cheap Irish labor and Jewish owners. A Molotov cocktail brings things to a head. Written by
Move a Dickens story up into the time of the Depression. Add elements of Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath." Add the blackshirt Fascists from "1900." Add a little boy whose father and brother are involved in desperate economic problems complete with unions and favoritism, as in "Billy Elliot."
Make it very dark, and very drear. Let the camera see drearily, smokily, darkly, unclearly.
Let the characters speak in their own, natural way, without regard to an American audience having difficulty understanding them.
This is "Liam." It is an indictment of religion, the undeniable caste system of the UK, and of government in general. It is a film that was difficult to watch, although never did I say anything like "this is bad." It was just difficult to watch.
Everything rang true, and it was heartbreaking, with a few uplifting moments...but very few. This is an excellent film, a very well-acted film, well-directed and with an excellent screenplay. But difficult to watch, in spots.
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