Nil By Mouth
- rated - HOT! HOT! HOT!
I suspect that this could be Gary Oldman's only film. He might be doing
a Charles Laughton. Making only one film, but a masterpiece. It seems
to me that he has one story to tell, and it is his story. Fiction could
never be as powerful as this bleak reality.
Bleak it is, but don't be put off. This is a wonderful piece of
filmmaking. Incredibly, given some of his recent choices as a movie
actor, Oldman seems to have impeccable taste and timing. He judges the
audience precisely, giving us just about more than we can handle, and
then pulling back.
The script is as real as it could be, and the performances match it
scene by scene. These are towering performances of naturalism: you are
not seeing a film, you are seeing reality. A brilliantly realised
reality. These are not attractive people, but they are real people and
they are Gary's people. he knows them and he loves them and he shows us
their strengths and weaknesses without wincing and without preaching or
pushing. This film is not like any other film I've seen, so far as I
can remember. It comes closest to Terence Davies, and yet I think it is
better than that. Oldman sees things with a clearer eye, and is less
theatrical about the way he tells the story. He is certainly worlds
away from the films of Ken Loach or Mike Newell - he is far more
subtle, direct and honest.
The only moralising we see is around the edges, and involves the
children who are born into this scene. Oldman shows us these children,
but says nothing - we must draw our own conclusions. Even when the
central character (clearly based on Oldman's father) gives his own
theory about why he is like he is, we get to make up our own minds.
This film is also a sociological document in its own right. We see the
effect that drugs - heroin in particular - has had on the established
criminal scene in the East End of London. And we see the changing role
of the women in all this. But it is good to know that in a constantly
changing world, the role of the cup of tea does not change in English
The only criticism I have is of the music. At times it is too literal
for my liking. But this is a quibble. And at the end Oldman's choice,
like just about everything else in this film, is perfect.