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Liam (2000) More at IMDbPro »

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Liam -- A family falls into poverty during the Depression.


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Jimmy McGovern (written by)
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Release Date:
23 January 2001 (UK) See more »
Big Heroes Come In Small Packages.
A family falls into poverty during the Depression. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
2 wins & 4 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Powerful, Poignant, Moving (and available for rental) See more (33 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Ian Hart ... Dad
Claire Hackett ... Mum

Anthony Borrows ... Liam
David Hart ... Con
Megan Burns ... Teresa

Anne Reid ... Mrs. Abernathy
Russell Dixon ... Father Ryan
Julia Deakin ... Auntie Aggie

Andrew Schofield ... Uncle Tom
Bernadette Shortt ... Lizzie
David Carey ... Lizzie's husband
David Knopov ... Mr. Samuels
Jane Gurnett ... Mrs. Samuels
Gema Loveday ... Jane Samuels

Martin Hancock ... David
Sylvia Gatril ... Nunney
Chris Darwin ... Nunney's husband
James Foy ... Lofty
Arnold Brown ... Pawnbroker
Billy Moocho ... Clubman

Stephen Walters ... Black shirt
Bryan Reagan ... Gaffer
Sean Styles ... Big Micky
Sean McKee ... Little Micky
George Maudsley ... Man at political rally
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Tim Baker ... (uncredited)

Christopher Schönning ... Policeman (uncredited)

Directed by
Stephen Frears 
Writing credits
Jimmy McGovern (written by)

Produced by
Michael André .... associate producer
Ulrich Felsberg .... co-producer
Sally Hibbin .... executive producer
Colin McKeown .... producer
Tessa Ross .... executive producer
Martin Tempia .... producer
David M. Thompson .... executive producer
Original Music by
John Murphy 
Cinematography by
Andrew Dunn 
Film Editing by
Kristina Hetherington 
Casting by
Leo Davis 
Pippa Hall 
Production Design by
Stephen Fineren 
Art Direction by
Hannah Moseley 
Costume Design by
Alexandra Caulfield 
Makeup Department
Marrie Dorris .... assistant makeup artist
Samantha Marshall .... makeup supervisor
Sue Milton .... makeup designer
Production Management
Donna Molloy .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
William Dutton .... second assistant director
Trevor Gittings .... first assistant director
Adam O'Brien .... third assistant director
Art Department
Steve Bedford .... construction manager (as Stephen Bedford)
Richard Brockless .... construction team
David Flower .... set dresser
Bernard Hamill .... additional constructor
Brian Henry .... stand-by props
Duncan Howell .... stand-by art director
Darren Malone .... set dresser
Ron Pritchard .... production buyer
Alan Pugh .... additional constructor
Derek Roberts .... property master
David Round .... production buyer
Peter Skarratt .... stand-by carpenter
Paul Tandy .... stand-by painter
Lee Howarth .... rigger: art department (uncredited)
Sound Department
Chris Atkinson .... production sound mixer
Matthew Gough .... co-sound mixer
Diane Greaves .... foley artist
Terry Isted .... foley recordist
Peter Joly .... supervising sound editor
Michael Redfern .... foley editor
Adrian Rhodes .... sound re-recording mixer
Mark Rose .... assistant sound editor
Alison Ross .... boom operator
Jason Swanscott .... foley artist
Ted Swanscott .... foley mixer
Visual Effects by
Giles Livesey .... telecine colorist
Nastuh Abootalebi .... visual effects (uncredited)
Moritz Peters .... visual effects (uncredited)
Matthew Twyford .... visual effects (uncredited)
Riky Ash .... stunts
Mark Berry .... stunts
Bill Davey .... stunts
Levan Doran .... stunts
Dave Fisher .... stunts
Paul Howell .... stunts
Glenn Marks .... stunt coordinator
Andy Merchant .... stunts
Christopher Schönning .... stunts (as Christopher Pocock)
Shaun Wallace .... stunts
Camera and Electrical Department
Roy Carter .... stand-by rigger
Glenn Carvath .... electrician (as Glen Carvath)
Michael Costelloe .... assistant camera
Vinny Cowper .... electrician
Daniel Gadd .... camera trainee
Peter Goddard .... gaffer
Brendan Judge .... grip
Daniel Lightening .... clapper loader
Christopher McDonough .... crane grip (2000)
Tony O'Brien .... best boy
Trevor Owens .... still photographer
Casting Department
Vanessa Baker .... adr voice casting
Brendan Donnison .... adr voice casting
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Kath Davies .... costume dresser
Tabitha Moses .... costume dresser
Kevin Pollard .... costume supervisor
Editorial Department
Darren Brady .... assistant to editor
Music Department
Simon Denny .... additional score production
Simon Denny .... additional score recordings
Daniel L. Griffiths .... score mixer
Daniel L. Griffiths .... score producer
John Murphy .... arranger
Greg Francis .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Transportation Department
Terry Eden .... genny driver
Other crew
Vicki Allen .... additional runner
Roger Arscott .... location manager
Sarah Best .... production secretary
Paul Codman .... child acting coach
Laurence Easeman .... floor runner
Mark Edwards .... production accountant
Paul Edwards .... floor runner
Dorothy Friend .... script supervisor
Jenni Hicks .... office assistant
Richard Lloyd Jones .... additional runner
Grainne Marmion .... production executive: BBC
Julie Scott .... production executive: BBC
Roxy Spencer .... script editor
Colin Taylor .... location assistant
Jean Taylor .... production coordinator
Ruth Taylor .... assistant production accountant
Dean Williamson .... floor runner

Production CompaniesDistributorsSpecial EffectsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Rated R for some nudity and language
90 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

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The SashSee more »


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24 out of 32 people found the following review useful.
Powerful, Poignant, Moving (and available for rental), 22 November 2002

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.


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