95 user 42 critic

Nil by Mouth (1997)

R | | Drama | 6 February 1998 (USA)
A rough, short-tempered patriarch of a working class family has his life and the relationships around him slowly unravel.


Gary Oldman


Gary Oldman (screenplay)
Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 8 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Ray Winstone ... Raymond
Kathy Burke ... Valerie
Charlie Creed-Miles ... Billy
Laila Morse Laila Morse ... Janet
Edna Doré Edna Doré ... Kath
Chrissie Cotterill Chrissie Cotterill ... Paula
Jon Morrison Jon Morrison ... Angus
Jamie Foreman ... Mark
Steve Sweeney ... Danny
Terry Rowley Terry Rowley ... M.C. in Club
Sam Miller ... Club Comic
Leah Fitzgerald Leah Fitzgerald ... Michelle
Gerry Bromfield Gerry Bromfield ... Drug Dealer
Neil Maskell ... Schmuddie
Sid Golder Sid Golder ... Old Guy in Window


The family of Raymond, his wife Val and her brother Billy live in working-class London district. Also in their family is Val and Billy's mother Janet and grandmother Kath. Billy is a drug addict and Raymond kicks him out of the house, making him live on his own. Raymond is generally a rough and even violent person, and that leads to problems in the life of the family. Written by Gustaf Molin <gustaf.molin@usa.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for graphic drug use, non-stop strong language, brutal domestic violence and some nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Janet is played by director Gary Oldman's sister, Laila Morse. See more »


A boom mic is visible in the supermarket parking lot. See more »


Danny: You want it? You want it with me?
See more »


Referenced in The Adam and Joe Show: Episode #2.2 (1997) See more »


Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man
Written by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II
Performed by Kathleen Oldman
See more »

User Reviews

Not a great film but truly a powerful and engaging experience
22 June 2008 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

Much more an experience than a narrative-based film this project. Gary Oldman's directorial debut betrays some of his weaknesses but shows a lot of strength with a subject that he also scripted. From the very start we find ourselves in the type of pub/club that, as an educated liberal I find incredibly intimidating. I'm not trying to be elitist (although I'm sure it will come across that way) but the characters in this film are instantly recognisable to me and very frightening. People who carry their frustrations without knowing what they are angry at and ultimately are just out and out angry at everything whether it be just a minor bump in a pub. This is the world of the film and within it we have a loose narrative about a problem within the family of Billy, who is a junkie but the main thrust is less about a specific story but rather just putting the audience in the middle of this trapped and violent family and leaving us to find our own way.

This approach makes the film a little weak structurally and does produce some scenes where Oldman relies on heavy use of music to just play over silent scenes but mostly it works. The way that it does work is that the experience is so visceral and convincing that the viewer doesn't care so much that it lacks a story with star, middle and end but rather feels the scenario and characters. Oldman directs in the grim and smoke of the environment and, while not technically impressive to watch, it works with the theme and content. What he does very well is draw some great performances from the British cast. Winstone has become famous off the back of characters like this and he nails not just the anger but the misplaced sense of frustration and inadequacy; he doesn't wear it like a badge but merges it really well into his character so that it is easy to just see him as an angry thug. Burke is better known as a comedic actress but she is tremendous here – really convincing and full of fear, when she says she feels so very old I really believed her. Creed-Miles feels a bit out to one side but is also strong – as are Morse, Morrison and others in supporting roles.

Nil By Mouth is not a fun or pleasant film and the language is extreme and endless. Nor is it a great film in regards structure, flow or narrative. However what it is very good as is an experience which is convincing and uncomfortably real. Poverty is terrible in any place and being trapped in it for generations is worse; Oldman does not pity his characters nor does he blame others for their problems but he makes them both sympathetic but also repugnant and it is the overall experience of watching that make thes film one worth seeing.

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Official Sites:

Sony Pictures Classics


UK | France



Release Date:

6 February 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Nil by Mouth See more »

Filming Locations:

England, UK See more »


Box Office


$9,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$28,367, 8 February 1998

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

SE8 Group, EuropaCorp See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | SDDS



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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