Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988) - Rotten Tomatoes

Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988)

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AUDIENCE SCORE

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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Cast

Sally Davies
as Young Eileen
Nathan Walsh
as Tony as a child
Susan Flanagan
as Maisie as a child
Anne Dyson
as Granny
Judith Barker
as Rose's Family
Jean Boht
as Aunty Nell
Alan Bird
as Baptismal Priest
Chris Benson
as Rose's Family
Matthew Long
as Mr. Spaull
Carl Chase
as Uncle Ted
Roy Ford
as Wedding Priest
John Carr
as Registrar
John Michie
as Soldier
Ina Clough
as Licensee
Terry Melia
as Military Policeman
Lorraine Michaels
as Rose's Family
John Thomalla
as Military Policeman
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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.

Full Review… | September 22, 2014
New Yorker
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | June 2, 2014
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | June 2, 2014
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | June 2, 2014
Rolling Stone
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | June 2, 2014
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | June 2, 2014
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Distant Voices, Still Lives

½

Focusing once again on the nature of memory, Davies' second feature centers on a deconstruction of the romanticization of the past instead of cultivating the emotionally devastating truths he tapped into in The Long Day Closes. Presenting both the good and the bad as a means of communicating the ways in which people distort their memories to fit their subconscious agendas, Distant Voices, Still Lives is another elegantly composed, bracingly original trip into Terence Davies childhood.

Reece Leonard
Reece Leonard
½

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

½

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

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