The dramatically brutal life of a family struggling to get by in South London is unflinchingly depicted in Gary Oldman's debut feature as writer/director. In a moving performance for which she was named Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival, Kathy Burke stars with Ray Winstone, Chalire Creed-Miles, Laila Morse and Edna Dore in this story of love, dependency, abuse and poverty. NIL BY MOUTH features an acclaimed musical score by Eric Clapton.
Gary Oldman took a break from acting to write and direct this unflinching family drama out of the kitchen-sink British school. Oldman doesn't appear in the film, instead handing the heavy lifting to the remarkable Ray Winstone (Sexy Beast, Cold Mountain) and Kathy Burke, who won a prize at the Cannes Film Festival for her work. The scummy drug trade of lower-class London is Oldman's turf, but he puts special focus on the miserable cycles of violence that fuel a family's struggle within this world. The results are not always easy to watch, but they are devastating (and the final sequence is chilling). Oldman may be guilty of indulging his actors a bit, but it's forgivable, given the big, roaring performances. One advantage of watching the movie on DVD, at least for non-British audiences: the chance to check subtitles against the heavily accented dialogue. --Robert Horton