33 user 48 critic

Liam (2000)

R | | Drama | 5 October 2001 (USA)
A family falls into poverty during the Depression.



On Disc

at Amazon

2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Sammy and Rosie are an unconventional middle-class London married couple. They live in the midst of inner-city chaos, surround themselves with intellectual street people, and sleep with ... See full summary »

Director: Stephen Frears
Stars: Shashi Kapoor, Claire Bloom, Frances Barber
The Van (1996)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

The third installment of Irish author Roddy Doyle's 'Barrytown Trilogy', following 'The Commitments' and 'The Snapper', depicts the hilarious yet poignant adventures of Bimbo. Upon being ... See full summary »

Director: Stephen Frears
Stars: Colm Meaney, Donal O'Kelly, Ger Ryan
Drama | Romance | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

An intimate story of the enduring bond of friendship between two hard-living men, set against a sweeping backdrop: the American West, post-World War II, in its twilight. Pete and Big Boy ... See full summary »

Director: Stephen Frears
Stars: Billy Crudup, Woody Harrelson, Patricia Arquette
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Ali's biggest match, his fight with the US government. A film about the politics and hubris surrounding the Vietnam War and the revenge exacted on America's greatest sportsman of the 20th century because he refused to fight in that war.

Director: Stephen Frears
Stars: Christopher Plummer, Frank Langella, Ed Begley Jr.
Comedy | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Laura Henderson buys an old London theater and opens it up as the Windmill, a performance hall which goes down in history for, among other things, its all-nude revues.

Director: Stephen Frears
Stars: Judi Dench, Bob Hoskins, Christopher Guest
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

An illegal Nigerian immigrant discovers the unpalatable side of London life.

Director: Stephen Frears
Stars: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Audrey Tautou, Sophie Okonedo
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Sparks fly in Glasgow's south side when a young Asian man enters into a relationship with a Caucasian woman.

Director: Ken Loach
Stars: Atta Yaqub, Eva Birthistle, Ahmad Riaz
Chéri (2009)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

The son of a courtesan retreats into a fantasy world after being forced to end his relationship with the older woman who educated him in the ways of love.

Director: Stephen Frears
Stars: Michelle Pfeiffer, Rupert Friend, Kathy Bates
Mary Reilly (1996)
Drama | Horror | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

A housemaid falls in love with Dr. Jekyll and his darkly mysterious counterpart, Mr. Hyde.

Director: Stephen Frears
Stars: Julia Roberts, John Malkovich, George Cole
Lawn Dogs (1997)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

When Devon, a 10-year-old girl, forges a friendship with Trent, a 21-year-old outsider who mows the neighborhood lawns, things suddenly get very complicated and private.

Director: John Duigan
Stars: Sam Rockwell, Kathleen Quinlan, Mischa Barton
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

In London, the twenty-seven year-old hairdresser Rita decides to complete her basic education before having children as desired by her husband Denny. She joins the literature course in an ... See full summary »

Director: Lewis Gilbert
Stars: Michael Caine, Julie Walters, Michael Williams
Tamara Drewe (2010)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A young newspaper writer returns to her hometown in the English countryside, where her childhood home is being prepped for sale.

Director: Stephen Frears
Stars: Gemma Arterton, Luke Evans, Dominic Cooper


Cast overview, first billed only:
Claire Hackett ...
David Hart ...
Megan Burns ...
Mrs. Abernathy
Russell Dixon ...
Father Ryan
Julia Deakin ...
Auntie Aggie
Uncle Tom
Bernadette Shortt ...
David Carey ...
Lizzie's husband
David Knopov ...
Mr. Samuels
Jane Gurnett ...
Mrs. Samuels
Gema Loveday ...
Jane Samuels


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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Big Heroes Come In Small Packages.



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some nudity and language | See all certifications »



| | |



Release Date:

5 October 2001 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Lapsuuden loppu  »

Box Office


£1,600,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$44,399 (USA) (23 September 2001)


$1,006,408 (USA) (9 December 2001)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Some of These Days
Composed by Shelton Brooks
Performed by Bernadette Shortt
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Powerful, Poignant, Moving (and available for rental)
22 November 2002 | by (New York, N.Y.) – See all my reviews

British filmmakers can and very often do lampoon their country's class system and its internecine struggles, amusing and entertaining us. Or they can, as in "Liam," starkly and powerfully bring to the screen a slice of 1930s, Depression-struck Liverpool and through a family show in microcosm the near self-destruction of a society (thank goodness for World War II).

England then (and now) is largely populated in working class industrial areas by Irish immigrants or their first-generation offspring. An uneasy peace between native-born working class families and Irish immigrants periodically erupts into dissension when times are bad. They were very bad in the early Thirties when a doctrine-bound Catholic church struggled to maintain a spiritual hold on dissatisfied and nearly penniless parishioners while Sir Oswald Mosely's British Union of Fascists took to the street offering a secular religion of bigotry and violence.

"Liam" is a little boy by that name who suffers from an inability to get words out when questioned or pressed but who can speak clearly in a sing-song voice when alone or at ease. He adores his older sister, Teresa, and basks in her returned love. "Dad" and "Mum" aren't given names, an effect that creates a sense of "Everyman(woman)". Dad is a proud laborer, at first suspicious of the church and latterly angry at its exactions of the small amount of money unemployed and underpaid workers have. Mom is just what you'd expect - an equally proud but pragmatic woman who strives every waking minute to manage her family. A son who leans far to the left politically is the constant irritant to dad's pride of place and certainty of values.

Dad loses his job and Teresa goes to work as a maid for the man who closed the factory where dad worked. Actually she is hired by his wife. At first unsuspectingly and then unwillingly she becomes a confidant and accomplice of the adulteress woman of the house. As we would say today, Teresa has "issues."

Meanwhile, back at the church and elementary school Liam and the children are besieged by priest and female teacher with an endless stream of horror stories about hell and exaltations to embrace doctrine unquestioningly. The strap is never out of employment for long. Not for a second do the older pair reveal the slightest comprehension of the brewing economic and social storm that the children face day in and day out.

Anti-Semitism has never been in short supply in England and in the 1930s its worst manifestations, fueled by the growing Nazi and Fascist movements, were acted out. Dad develops from a relatively benign reflexive anti-Semitism to full-fledged Jew hatred. Director Stephen Frears risked but avoided stereotyping by making his Jewish landlord, Jewish pawnbroker and affluent Jewish family hated simply because of who they were rather than by any grotesque manipulation of what they did in Liverpool. While several reviewers decry that the characters who were viewed as oppressors are all Jews, the reality is that this was one instance when both Irish Catholics and threatened by competition and unemployment English did unite against the visible and unfairly blamed Jews of Liverpool.

The cast is largely unknown here but their acting is superb. Anthony Borrows as Liam can't be overlooked. This little boy lives his complex role. I was drawn into their circle by the strength of the acting. Dad's family slides into a brush with true poverty realistically. Their pain and enveloping helplessness escapes the screen.

This film isn't anti-Catholic. It chronicles a church some few remember that did what it was trained to do, leaving for future generations the demand for reform and insight into the realities of family and community life. As obtuse as the priest and school teacher are, they probably imbued enough people with an unquestioning belief in the church to keep them immune from the blandishments of radicals on the left and fascists on the right. That's no small accomplishment.


26 of 34 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: