Till Human Voices Wake Us (2003)



Critic Consensus: What is meant to be dreamy and romantic instead comes off as sluggish and dull.

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Movie Info

Young adolescent Sam Franks (Lindley Joyner) spends his summers away from school with his physician father (Peter Curtin), whose schedule barely allows for quality father-son time. Therefore, Sam idles away most of his time with neighbor Maurie Lewis (Frank Gallacher) and Maurie's handicapped daughter Silvy (Brooke Harman), who also happens to be Sam's best friend. One night following a dance, Sam and Silvy kiss for the first time, and go down to the nearby river. As the two are lazily floating in the river and watching the night sky, Silvy disappears underwater and her body is never found. Several years afterwards, an adult Sam (Guy Pearce) -- who has gone on to become a psychiatry instructor -- journeys back to the same town for the funeral of his recently deceased father. While en route, Sam encounters Ruby (Helena Bonham Carter), a mysterious young woman he is forced to rescue from the same river that Silvy had disappeared in. After bringing Ruby to his father's house to calm her down after the incident, Sam begins to feel a strangely familiar comfortableness with her and the two begin to visit all of Sam's and Silvy's old stomping grounds.
R (for a scene of sexuality)
Art House & International , Drama , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:

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Guy Pearce
as Dr. Sam Franks
Frank Gallacher
as Maurie Lewis
Lindley Joyner
as Young Sam
Brooke Harman
as Silvy Lewis
Peter Curtin
as Dr. David Franks
Margot Knight
as Dorothy Lewis
Dawn Klingberg
as Mrs. Sarks
Stewart Faichney
as Rev. Mortenbury
Diana Greentree
as Mrs. Pickford
Ian Swan
as Police Sergeant
Mark Perren Jones
as Police Constable
Sally Plant
as Student No. 1
Andrea Swifte
as Patient No. 1
Fred Barker
as Train Conductor
Reville Smith
as Undertaker
Joanie Thomas
as Lady on Train
Roger O'Conner
as Man on Train
Amanda Douge
as Katherine
Josephine Keen
as Patient No. 2
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Critic Reviews for Till Human Voices Wake Us

All Critics (72) | Top Critics (25)

There's not quite enough mystery here, and no amount of pretty pastoral settings can make up for that.

Full Review… | April 18, 2003
Seattle Times
Top Critic

Despite being well acted and sweetly moving when it strips down to the tender poem at its heart, Till Human Voices Wake Us spends too much time playing to an otherworldly suspense that simply isn't there.

Full Review… | April 4, 2003
Boston Globe
Top Critic

It's telling just how uninvolving Till Human Voices Wake Us is that by film's end, you'll just be relieved it's over.

March 28, 2003
Miami Herald
Top Critic

I'd recommend you actively or passively forget this one.

March 14, 2003
Washington Post
Top Critic

It walks an odd path through romance, psychology and the netherworld, but it's a walk worth taking.

March 14, 2003
Detroit News
Top Critic

There's nothing really wrong with Till Human Voices Wake Us that some actual dramatic tension couldn't resolve.

Full Review… | March 14, 2003
Detroit Free Press
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Till Human Voices Wake Us

This was really sad...that they wasted the time of Bonham-Carter and Pearce on this 'potentially' good and working premise, but to much of the time was wasted, or it seemed at least to me, to fill time rather then build the characters or interest.

Rory Smith
Rory Smith

The idea is appealing, and the leads competent, but there's an obvious emotional deficiency in Till Human Voices Wake Us. Everything here is just too fluffy and metaphysical to have any real human weight to it, and though it probably read well on paper, the actual realization leaves a lot to be desired. Perhaps most telling is how the music cues seem to be working double-time to cover up the odd lack of feeling throughout the movie, as if the filmmakers weren't content to let the interplay between our actors stand on its own. Honestly, they were right, but no amount of swelling strings and orchestral heart-tugging could have fixed the fact that everything simply falls short. There's nothing wrong with a movie being slow, but this movie really needed to develop its characters well to work, a task at which it fails. Sam and Silvy just seem like two moony youngsters making doe-eyes at each other, and grown-up mustachioed Guy Pearce half-heartedly works through an expressive block through most of the movie. The 50/50 split between Sam's youth and his adulthood, where he's visiting his recently deceased father's estate, may be to blame for this. We learn that a past relationship has been haunting him all his life, a relationship which is underdeveloped and difficult to care about; in turn, since we don't know much about adult Sam either, it becomes similarly difficult to care about his path to redemption and acceptance. Really, the movie is a wash. If you view it as a sort of fable, or a metaphorical treatise on lost love and coping, then the results may be watchable. Other movies have done it twice as well, however, and I suggest you defer to Last Life in the Universe if this sounds even remotely interesting to you.

Drew Smith
Drew Smith

Super Reviewer

A touching romantic ghost story.

Anthony Valletta
Anthony Valletta

Super Reviewer

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