A working class British family struggles with their demons -- sometimes violently -- in this intensely emotional drama that marked the directorial debut of actor Gary Oldman. Janet (Laila Morse) is a widowed factory worker who shares her home with her aged mother Kath (Edna Dore), her daughter Valerie (Kathy Burke), her son Billy (Charlie Creed-Miles), and Valerie's husband Ray (Ray Winstone). Ray is an unstable and out-of-work alcoholic who often uses his pregnant wife as a punching bag, while Billy is a drug addict whose habit has led Janet to throw him out of the house more then once, only to take him back later. Janet is uncertain about what to do when Ray's latest tirade sends Valerie to the emergency room, and Janet also has to come to terms with the financial and emotional costs of Billy's addiction. Kathy Burke, Ray Winstone, and Laila Morse all received prizes from the 1997 British Independent Film Awards for their work in Nil by Mouth; Burke also received Best Actress honors at that year's Cannes Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
US viewers, make sure to use the subtitle function otherwise it's tough going understanding the dialect. We had a hard time following things for a while. The movie is about an an underclass family and the crime, drugs and violence that accompany them. A dismal story, very well acted without descending into hopelessness `a la "Requiem for a Dream " . The excellent sound track with original material by Eric Clapton is reason enough to see this. It's hard to call "Nil by Mouth" entertaining but it's certainly worth watching.
Hard to watch, hard to understand the characters involved, hard to like even one of them. This is a breathtakingly painful film that left me feeling more gut-punched than entertained--and I like it that way. "Nil by Mouth," a brutal look at lower class life in Britain, felt real. It felt sincere in an agonizing way that many films aim for but few attain. I found myself squirming uncomfortably, shaking my head in sad amazement, and shouting at the screen.
If you can take your movie straight up with no sugar-coating, then grab this dirty, rough-hewn gem from Gary Oldman. And grab a bag of ice for that eye.
Definitely not your typical hollywood flick. It is a Hard-hitting tale giving a tragic look at dire family dinamics. No forced happy ending on this one. Well done and intense. Great performances. Use subtitles if you find the accents hard to understand.