7.5/10
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Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988)

The lives of an English working-class family are told out of order in a free-associative manner. The first part, "Distant Voices", focuses on the father's role in the family. The second part, "Still Lives", focuses on his children.

Director:

Terence Davies

Writer:

Terence Davies
10 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Freda Dowie ... Mother
Pete Postlethwaite ... Father
Angela Walsh Angela Walsh ... Eileen
Dean Williams Dean Williams ... Tony
Lorraine Ashbourne ... Maisie
Sally Davies Sally Davies ... Eileen as a Child
Nathan Walsh Nathan Walsh ... Tony as a Child
Susan Flanagan Susan Flanagan ... Maisie as a Child
Michael Starke ... Dave
Vincent Maguire Vincent Maguire ... George
Antonia Mallen Antonia Mallen ... Rose
Debi Jones Debi Jones ... Micky
Chris Darwin Chris Darwin ... Red
Marie Jelliman Marie Jelliman ... Jingles
Andrew Schofield ... Les
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Storyline

The second film in Terence Davies's autobiographical series ('Trilogy', 'The Long Day Closes') is an impressionistic view of a working-class family in 1940s and 1950s Liverpool, based on Davies's own family. The first part, 'Distant Voices', opens with grown siblings Eileen (Angela Walsh), Maisie (Lorraine Ashbourne) and Tony (Dean Williams), and their mother (Freda Dowie) arranged in mourning clothes before the photograph of their smiling father (Pete Postlethwaite). Soon after, the family poses in a similar tableau, but for a happier occasion - Eileen's wedding. While relatives sing at her reception, Eileen hysterically grieves for her dad, and recalls happy times of her youth. Tony and Maisie's memories, however, are more troubled. Davies intermingles and contrasts scenes like the family peacefully lighting candles in church with the brutal man beating his wife and terrorizing his young children. In 'Still Lives', set (and filmed) two years later, the siblings are settled in life, ... Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

In memory, everything happens to music.

Genres:

Drama | Music

Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK | West Germany

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 November 1988 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

Entfernte Stimmen - Stilleben See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$688,329
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The photograph of a man with a pony, on the wall of the living room, is a genuine photo of Terence Davies' father, on whom Pete Poslethwaite's character is closely based. See more »

Quotes

Uncle Ted: I've switched the light off. I don't know whether I'm doing right or wrong.
See more »

Connections

References Limelight (1952) See more »

Soundtracks

Taking a Chance on Love
(uncredited)
Written by Vernon Duke, John La Touche and Ted Fetter
Performed by Ella Fitzgerald
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The "real truth", was far worse than the movie.
26 June 2002 | by stuhh2001See all my reviews

In an interview, Terence Davis has stated that he had to tone down the reality of the story because as depressing as the film is, the "real thing" would be unendurable for audiences. We have all seen rage on the screen. Brando, De Niro, and Pesci, have had their moments, but the two actors who truly frightened me, and left me literally trembling, were Temuera Morrison, as the Maori father in "Once Were Warriors", a film from New Zealand, and Peter Postlethwaite, as the father in "Distant Voices". These actors hit something visceral in me, that my therapists never even guessed at. Fear of the father? Living with a man (my dad, so consumed with anger at a world that never had a truly happy day for him) who could only vent his rage at his family? Who knows, and at the age of 68, who the hell cares. Besides, Postlethwaites (I'm sure this name kept him out of the "bigtime" for many years, a little shobiz humor folks) acting honors go to the mother, Freda Dowie. She's on Masterpiece Theatre a lot and she's either mentally ill, or like this woman, a battered housewife trying to keep her kids and herself alive. Happiness or even a nice day is not on her agenda. Just trying to get through poverty, and not having her jaw broken by her husband is a happy day to her. If you like exploding autos, and thong draped anorexic Barbie dolls, this movie is not for you. But if you want to see a work of art carved out of Davis' agony, see this movie. Oh yes, I remember he said in an interview on NPR, that he couldn't remember his father ever touching him, or saying a kind word to him.


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