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NIL BY MOUTH

Director: GARY OLDMAN

128 minutes| U.K.-France| 1997| Colour| 35mm


Gary Oldman’s currently acclaimed performance in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (see page 7) provides a good reason to revisit his one film as director; a searing, semi-autobiographical depiction of a deprived London community trapped in a vicious circle of drink, drugs, criminality and domestic violence. Ray Winstone plays the monstrous, self-pitying yet ultimately pitiable husband; Kathy Burke (in a performance that deservedly won her the Best Actress prize at Cannes) is his long-suffering wife; and Charlie Creed-Miles plays her heroin-addicted younger brother. It is utterly uncompromising and an uncomfortable watch, but tremendously acted, and not without moments of compassion, notably when Winstone recalls his father’s last illness and the ‘Nil by Mouth’ notice above the hospital bed becomes a metaphor for an inability to express love. It’s one of those films you feel the director had to get out of his system. Oldman does so brilliantly; and the final dedication is deadly.<

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