Distant Voices, Still Lives Reviews

  • Nov 21, 2018

    "Distant Voices Still Lives" is an oniric and original biography. The film is composed by musical postcards from the past, and even if I found the substance a bit gaunt, the elegant technique bring this composition in the "must watch" list.

    "Distant Voices Still Lives" is an oniric and original biography. The film is composed by musical postcards from the past, and even if I found the substance a bit gaunt, the elegant technique bring this composition in the "must watch" list.

  • Sep 02, 2018

    Having never seen this before until now, I was unprepared for this film's fragmented and dream-like presentation which defies linear chronology and your normal narrative structure. Once you get used to it, however, this avant-garde and thoughtful take proves rather fitting as the film tells the story of a working class family in post-war England by evoking seemingly random snippets of memory which coalesce into a coherent whole inside the attentive audience's minds. Births, marriages and deaths are all present and accounted for, and in between contrasting moments of paternal brutality and kindness, they go to the pub to drink and sing ... and sing... and sing some more. While this can be endearing to some and is perhaps a vital part of the film's writer-director, Terence Davies' life, but frankly, it does my head in, as his characters would say. Other than that and operating with a fairly unknown (at that time at least) cast that includes a central anchoring performance by Pete Postlewaite, the film is a daring and rewarding piece of cinema consisting of beautifully nostalgic imageries, and succeeds unequivocally as far as its inception and execution is concerned. I just wish that there is more meat to the conventional stories than the soap opera storylines we've got here, but perhaps their mundanity and ordinariness is the point Davies is making with this, his cinematic love letter to his upbringing.

    Having never seen this before until now, I was unprepared for this film's fragmented and dream-like presentation which defies linear chronology and your normal narrative structure. Once you get used to it, however, this avant-garde and thoughtful take proves rather fitting as the film tells the story of a working class family in post-war England by evoking seemingly random snippets of memory which coalesce into a coherent whole inside the attentive audience's minds. Births, marriages and deaths are all present and accounted for, and in between contrasting moments of paternal brutality and kindness, they go to the pub to drink and sing ... and sing... and sing some more. While this can be endearing to some and is perhaps a vital part of the film's writer-director, Terence Davies' life, but frankly, it does my head in, as his characters would say. Other than that and operating with a fairly unknown (at that time at least) cast that includes a central anchoring performance by Pete Postlewaite, the film is a daring and rewarding piece of cinema consisting of beautifully nostalgic imageries, and succeeds unequivocally as far as its inception and execution is concerned. I just wish that there is more meat to the conventional stories than the soap opera storylines we've got here, but perhaps their mundanity and ordinariness is the point Davies is making with this, his cinematic love letter to his upbringing.

  • May 18, 2017

    Jesus H., will they ever shut up? I've never really been a fan of musicals, nevertheless, even when I dislike the songs, I can usually recognize and acknowledge, with ease, their production value and, sorry, there was none of it in 'Distant Voices, Still Lives'. In fact the film would have no redeeming value if it wasn't for its interesting cinematography.

    Jesus H., will they ever shut up? I've never really been a fan of musicals, nevertheless, even when I dislike the songs, I can usually recognize and acknowledge, with ease, their production value and, sorry, there was none of it in 'Distant Voices, Still Lives'. In fact the film would have no redeeming value if it wasn't for its interesting cinematography.

  • Sep 22, 2016

    It has the quality of old photographs, fading and somewhat discoloured - and when they sing the old songs, memories are surely evoked. This is obviously director Terence Davies' goal in this reflection on his family's life in working class Liverpool in the 1940's and 1950's. But we aren't treated to rose-coloured nostalgia; instead, things are often tense and even brutal. His father (played by Pete Postlethwaite) is surly and violent, beating the kids and his wife, leading to questions after his death about why mum ever married him. These early childhood experiences make up the first half of the film ("Distant Voices"), revealed discontinuously, evoking emotions more than revealing specific details of life - perhaps emotions are what chiefly remain decades later. The second half of the film (shot two years later) sees the three children grown up and starting their own marriages, often meeting in the pub with a gang of close friends and their mum. Other tensions arise, similar and different to those in the first half but now the spirit of community seems to enter as a protective factor (of sorts). Singing in the pub is a spirited, perhaps escapist, activity but tender feelings well up even as the cast expertly portrays the often ambivalent relations they have with each other or with their friends, growing distant. Are these still lives? Perhaps Davies sees them as not learning and building from their past experience. But still there is some life spirit here that isn't being quelled, that comes through, yes nostalgically, but with enough power to think that Davies became the poet that he clearly is through these foundational experiences (both good and bad).

    It has the quality of old photographs, fading and somewhat discoloured - and when they sing the old songs, memories are surely evoked. This is obviously director Terence Davies' goal in this reflection on his family's life in working class Liverpool in the 1940's and 1950's. But we aren't treated to rose-coloured nostalgia; instead, things are often tense and even brutal. His father (played by Pete Postlethwaite) is surly and violent, beating the kids and his wife, leading to questions after his death about why mum ever married him. These early childhood experiences make up the first half of the film ("Distant Voices"), revealed discontinuously, evoking emotions more than revealing specific details of life - perhaps emotions are what chiefly remain decades later. The second half of the film (shot two years later) sees the three children grown up and starting their own marriages, often meeting in the pub with a gang of close friends and their mum. Other tensions arise, similar and different to those in the first half but now the spirit of community seems to enter as a protective factor (of sorts). Singing in the pub is a spirited, perhaps escapist, activity but tender feelings well up even as the cast expertly portrays the often ambivalent relations they have with each other or with their friends, growing distant. Are these still lives? Perhaps Davies sees them as not learning and building from their past experience. But still there is some life spirit here that isn't being quelled, that comes through, yes nostalgically, but with enough power to think that Davies became the poet that he clearly is through these foundational experiences (both good and bad).

  • Jun 22, 2016

    Refreshingly unique and exquisitely directed, Distant Voices, Still Lives is a stimulating semi-autobiography of writer-director Terrence Davies.

    Refreshingly unique and exquisitely directed, Distant Voices, Still Lives is a stimulating semi-autobiography of writer-director Terrence Davies.

  • Sep 21, 2015

    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.

    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.

  • Feb 06, 2015

    Actually I cannot find the words to truly describe this film, I think you will either get it or not, it moved me beyond belief.

    Actually I cannot find the words to truly describe this film, I think you will either get it or not, it moved me beyond belief.

  • Nov 23, 2013

    good period piece set in the 1940's

    good period piece set in the 1940's

  • Nov 20, 2013

    It's a little disjointed if you're looking for a film with a recognisable storyline because it isn't that type of film. What it does do is brilliantly convey a mid-20th century Lancastrian way of life that is superbly acted. The period costume and dialogue scripting are similarly fantastic and the sum of its parts create a very evocative and honest piece of social cinema art.

    It's a little disjointed if you're looking for a film with a recognisable storyline because it isn't that type of film. What it does do is brilliantly convey a mid-20th century Lancastrian way of life that is superbly acted. The period costume and dialogue scripting are similarly fantastic and the sum of its parts create a very evocative and honest piece of social cinema art.

  • Sep 30, 2013

    I thought I would really love this, but I was quite disappointed. I found the singing irritating, and I just found it rather confusing and uneventful. I quit enjoyed the atmosphere of it, but I don't understand the high praise.

    I thought I would really love this, but I was quite disappointed. I found the singing irritating, and I just found it rather confusing and uneventful. I quit enjoyed the atmosphere of it, but I don't understand the high praise.