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.
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
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.
27 of 34 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this