Renowned photographer Richard Billingham makes his feature-film debut with this intricate family portrait, inspired by his own memories of growing up in the West Midlands in the late 70s and early 80s, and then his father and mother in the late 90s. Billingham revisits the figures of his earlier photographs — his alcoholic father Ray; his mother Liz; and his younger brother Jason — with a series of family vignettes where life, lived on the margins of society and societal taboos, can spiral out of control.
“Even though it’s tough to like any of the characters, it’s also tough to dislike them, as the film neither panders for sympathy nor chides their listless ways. It bemoans neither the politics of the era nor blames the system which pins these people to the bottom of the barrel. It’s about the vividness of memory and how these lives have shaped Billingham’s own. It’s a very special film, perhaps the best to come out of the UK in many years.”
David Jenkins, Little White Lies ★★★★
“A darkly funny portrait of a Britain that shouldn’t exist….Billingham is working with the outstanding cinematographer Daniel Landin, much celebrated for his work on Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin, who sends a mythological shiver coursing through the chaos and clutter.
Ray and Liz are wonderfuly played by Justin Salinger and Ella Smith in young adulthod and Patrick Romer and Deirdre Kelly in late middle age.”
Robbie Collin, The Daily Telegraph ★★★★★