Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988) - Rotten Tomatoes

Distant Voices, Still Lives1988

Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988)



Critic Consensus: Bracingly original and beautifully composed, Distant Voices, Still Lives is an invigorating period drama that finds director Terence Davies in peak form.

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Movie Info

Set in 1940s England, Distant Voices/Still Lives is a compassionate look at a radically dysfunctional family. The son and his mother must endure the casual and overt cruelties of the bull-necked father. The ongoing abuse takes its toll in the form of failed marriages and misguided attempts at seeking security outside the family unit. As was the case with his earlier short subject trilogy (The Children, Madonna and Child, Death and Transfiguration), director Terence Davies based much of the material on his own life, combining rheumy-eyed cynicism with soft-edged nostalgia (the musical track, drawn from popular wartime songs, is particularly evocative).

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Critic Reviews for Distant Voices, Still Lives

All Critics (33) | Top Critics (12)

With an unfailing eye for place, décor, costume, and gesture, the director glides his camera through tangles of memories to evoke joys and horrors with a similar sense of wonder.

September 22, 2014 | Full Review…

A gripping and original piece of work, itself sure to be remembered as one of the finest films of the year.

June 2, 2014 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Just as you think you have its moves all doped out, a scene of such shocking beauty flashes before you that it takes your breath away.

June 2, 2014 | Full Review…

When a forty-four-year-old man makes a movie about his family and friends sitting around singing old tunes, you certainly don't expect an unforgettable amalgam of humor and heartbreak. But that is precisely what Terence Davies delivers.

June 2, 2014 | Full Review…

Screen dreams are strangest and strongest when they hit close to home. In Terence Davies' searing [Distant Voices, Still Lives]... mystery resides in the vision of his mother, magically poised on the hall sill, washing the outside windows.

June 2, 2014 | Full Review…

Sadly, most of the time Distant Voices is a hit parade of Father's swiftest punches played to the hit parade that he might have been listening to on the radio.

June 2, 2014 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Distant Voices, Still Lives


Terence Davis moving, harrowing and elegantly artistic masterpiece is one of the few Britsh films of recent years to embody a distinctly British identity. The plot involves a family wedding in working class Liverpool just after the second world war and the various episodes in the family's past dealing with their sometimes brutal and disturbed father. The beauty of the film lies in the deeply artistic composition of various shots, coupled with Davis' enduring compassion and understanding for the chararcters, especially the father played brilliantly by Pete Postlethwaite. It is an incredible evocation of family life and even though at times it makes for hard viewing, this is a film that must be seen.

Cassandra Maples
Cassandra Maples

Super Reviewer


Terence Davies's autobiographical film of working-class life in 1940s/50s Liverpool. A brilliant, emotional and powerful film full of great acting. The story is told through memories and switches between childhood and adulthood. Unique and highly recommended.

Emily B.
Emily B.

Super Reviewer


Pete Postlethwaite never made enough films for me. A great earlier performance from him here.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

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