This is a portrait of a family in terminal disfunction. The breadwinner is Janet (played by“Laila Morse,” Gary Oldman’s sister under a pseudonym). Her daughter Valerie (Cannes-winnerKathy Burke) is apathetic, pregnant, and married to the brutal, bullying and self-pitying Ray (RayWinstone). Her son Billy is a heroin addict, and he is thrown out of the house by Ray (who alsoalmost bites his nose off) after smoking some of Ray’s stash.
The worst-case scenarios o… domestic violence and drug abuse are dealt with in unblinkingfashion. There are no punches pulled, and no easy outs for the audience. The film does takeperhaps a bit too long to get going – in the first half hour, there are a few too many conversationsthat carry on well after they have served their character-establishing function – but the grittyauthenticity of the film is undeniable. Fans of Mike Leigh will be on familiar dark territoryhere.
The sound is 2.0, but this is a movie driven by dialogue, not spectacular sound design, so thisisn’t a huge handicap. The dialogue is clear and undistorted (though the accents and dialects aresuch that some viewers might feel the need to use the subtitles). This is not to say that there hasbeen no attention paid to surround effects. There is a very nice moment at the end of the openingcredits, where Eric Clapton’s score fades out and is replaced in the rear speakers by the ambientsound of a bar (which until now has been coming out of the front speakers exclusively). As well,there is some nice low key work done creating the white noise background of a large city.
The look is gritty and rather dark, but this is, I would submit, true to the look of the originalfilm. Whether the same can be said of the grain is an open question, but this too does add to theaforementioned grittiness. The blacks are good, and the contrasts are strong enough to get the jobdone, so that no matter how murky the look is, you can still make out what’s going on. there is noedge enhancement visible, and the image is sharp, but there does seem to be a bit of ghostinggoing on. The aspect ratio is 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen.
Nothing except trailers for Nil by Mouth, Last Orders, Mute Witness,and Once Upon a Time in the Midlands — all rather simliarly-themed films, with thestrange exception of horror thriller Mute Witness. The menu is basic.
Given the success of the film at Cannes (Kathy Burke won Best Actress), and its relativelyihigh profile, it is surprising that there are, effectively, no extras. Still, this is a movie that speaksfor itself.
Special Features List