Nil by Mouth


Nil by Mouth

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.



Total Count: 21


Audience Score

User Ratings: 6,854
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Movie Info

Gary Oldman returned to his East London roots with this semi-autobiographical drama of domestic violence and alcoholism. Kathy Burke received the 1997 Cannes Best Actress award. Music by Eric Clapton. Produced by Oldman, Luc Besson (The Fifth Element), and Douglas Urbanski.


Ray Winstone
as Raymond
Kathy Burke
as Valerie
Terry Rowley
as M.C. in Club
Gerry Bromfield
as Drug Dealer
Neil Maskell
as Schmuddie
Ronny Fox
as Peter
Sam Miller
as Club Comic
Sid Golder
as Old Guy in Window
John Blundell
as Man with Knife
Kenan Hudaverdi
as Laundrette Owner
Everton Nelson
as Street Violinist
Frances Ashman
as Club Singer
Martin Watson
as Club--Band Musician
Dan Carey
as Club--Band Musician
Giuseppe Acunzo
as Club--Band Musician
Scott Edmund Lane
as Club--Band Musician
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News & Interviews for Nil by Mouth

Critic Reviews for Nil by Mouth

All Critics (21) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (14) | Rotten (7)

  • Nil By Mouth offers a harrowing look at a working-class family beset by drugs, alcohol and abuse.

    Jan 9, 2018 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

    Mike Clark

    USA Today
    Top Critic
  • There's so much authenticity and raw emotion here that most viewers will be able to excuse the fact that they don't understand any of the dialogue.

    Dec 24, 2005 | Rating: 3/5
  • An uncompromising drama.

    Dec 23, 2003 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…
  • Imagine a movie where every character is played by Gary Oldman, in the drunken overacting Oldman mode. Oldman's unfocused and self-indulgent directorial debut has moments of poignancy and insight, but not enough to make it endurable.

    Aug 11, 2003 | Rating: D+
  • Oldman creates an uncanny documentary feel for his fictional story that draws you in despite the misery unfurling onscreen.

    Sep 9, 2002 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Nil by Mouth

  • Jan 31, 2012
    'Nil By Mouth' is a potent, relentless dose of real life; a portrait of the dead-end cycle of violence, abuse, addiction and poverty that occurs in cities all over the world. Though a trifle convoluted (there are a few scenes that contribute little or nothing to the film), it is a genuinely moving, visceral experience. Don't be mistaken, this is not another trashy British gangster flick, far from it. Ray Winstone(Ray) and Kathy Burke (Valerie) are both tremendous, their performances stop the film from descending into the realm of 'The Football Factory' or 'Rise of the Footsoldier'. It's also the script that distinguishes it from such films which, on face value, appear comparable. The script has ample profanity, and I really mean ample, it's the most profane film I've ever seen, but it also has segments of real poignancy. Burke and Winstone interpreted the script perfectly. Winstone's performance is unsettlingly convincing; some may say he's one-dimensional, but he really is a rather good actor. It is Kathy Burke's moments that are the most moving, chiefly a scene where she desperately tells a white-lie: it's genuinely upsetting. The film is rightfully spared of romanticism, it's completely devoid of poetic licence, what you see is pure, candid realism. Ironically, the film isn't pure at all, it's gritty and unrestrained in its depiction of violence and vulgarity; one moment being particularly horrifying. To criticise the film for being 'unfocused' is missing the point. To me, it was an almost non- linear insight into the human condition, a film woven from the personal experiences of Gary Oldman and delivered with the utmost conviction from Burke, Winstone and indeed the whole cast.
    Jack H Super Reviewer
  • Feb 25, 2011
    So, this f*cking movie was written and directed by that shifty c*nt who played Sid Vicious and Dracula awhile back. Most of the f*cking thing just wallows in being as f*cking coarse, brutal and vulgar as it can possibly be, and more than a f*cking hour passes before the f*cking slice-of-life banter even reveals a f*cking story. Turns out the f*cking thing is about domestic violence, specifically a burly, hard-drinking c*nt (Ray Winstone) who beats up his wife and junkie son. The c*nt has one sympathetic scene where we're supposed to feel f*cking sorry for him because his own dad was just as much of a c*nt, but I wasn't having it. Watching this f*cking movie, I wondered if I was off my head and had already seen the f*cking thing a few years back. Then it hit me -- I was confusing it with f*cking "Once Were Warriors," which has a similar f*cking story of some mouthy c*nt terrorizing his mates. Except that was a better f*cking film. It also detailed some f*cking economic factors, which are oddly missing from "Nil by Mouth." Hard to know what these f*cking c*nts do for money -- I guess they're all on the f*cking dole. Nobody does f*ck-all except the f*cking c*nts serving beer in the pub. The f*cking accents are hard to understand, and even if you get past that, you're faced with f*cking London dialect and f*cking chaotic, overlapping dialogue. There's a f*cking kitchen-table scene at the end where the c*nts wrap up an important f*cking plot thread, and I couldn't make out most of what was f*cking said. What a f*cking pain. That c*nt Winstone gives a fantastic f*cking performance, but the whole movie revolves around him and no one else except maybe his f*cking mother-in-law is established as a strong f*cking character. However, there's one sweet f*cking scene where another woman unexpectedly sings a tune that will break your f*cking heart. The script did have one feature that grew quite tiresome.
    Eric B Super Reviewer
  • Feb 10, 2011
    The words "gritty", "British" and "drama" usually and rightfully condemn a film to the Guy "Windsor" Ritchie hall of excrement . Having seen these terms applied to Oscar contenders like "Goodbye Charlie Bright", "Rancid aluminium" and "Love, honour and obey", I wasn't really expecting much from this film. Saying I was wrong would be a huge understatement. "Nil by Mouth" is an awesome achievement. A razor sharp dissection of a working class south London family that delivers the required punch on so many levels that you need to have a wash after watching it. It covers a vast spectrum of emotions that will see you (especially if you're British) laugh, cry and more often than not, hold your head in despair at witnessing an all too true account of what it is to be at the bottom of the British class system. It is unflinchingly brutal and somewhat depressing, yet at the same time shows how with guts, determination and a healthy sense of humour, people can survive even the most bleak and hopeless of situations. Kathy Burke is outstanding and Ray Winstone is dependable as ever, but Gary Oldman's screenplay and direction are the stars of the show. This script could stand on it's own as a fine social commentary on par, and not dissimilar from John King's "The Football Factory" and "Headhunters". Thankfully Oldman has also realised that in terms of direction, "gritty" does not have to mean the static, cold and quite frankly boring as hell style that so many British films have. The camera moves with a documentary feel energy, yet the slick cinematography keeps it from ever looking cheap. Quite simply one of the greatest British films of all time.
    Cassandra M Super Reviewer
  • Apr 22, 2010
    This film is from the 1997 Toronto International Film Festival, most of the films listed from this festival have been pretty good, but I have to be honest and say I didn?t get much out of this one. About people living in South London in a drug filled world and the problems they face. Dull and Depressing and I have enough of that in my life. 1 Star
    Bruce B Super Reviewer

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