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Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988)

Drama | 85 minutes
3,39 70 votes

Genre: Drama

Duration: 85 minuten

Country: United Kingdom

Directed by: Terence Davies

Stars: Freda Dowie, Pete Postlethwaite and Lorraine Ashbourne

IMDb score: 7,4 (5.179)

Releasedate: 29 September 1988


Distant Voices, Still Lives plot

The lives of the members of a Liverpool family in the 1940s - 1950s are brought into the spotlight. The authority of the father remains after his death and seems to be passed on to the next generation.

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avatar van Spetie


  • 38582 messages
  • 5669 votes

Distant Voices, Still Lives is a difficult film to rate. On the one hand it has something irresistible, but on the other hand it also repels enormously. The film is largely based on the former life of director Terence Davies, who also seems to have had a father of some sort.

Cinematographically it looks nice. The brown and beige-ish color filter really gives the viewer the idea that you are looking at something old and antique, but it somehow looks nice and stylish. The father is clearly central to the story. The always good Pete Postlethwaite plays a strong part as a charismatic father, who can be cheerful for the moment, only to explode ten seconds later over some trifle. It makes him a shaky, unpredictable character, who is portrayed strongly. The tension between the father and the rest of the family is constantly palpable.

Throughout the film there are constant flashbacks to the former life and the father always plays an important role in such an event in one way or another. It all seems very depressing, but fortunately there is also the necessary humor intertwined in between. I also found the role of the mother especially strong. Also a nice character, by the way, who, despite all the setbacks and poverty, remains fully committed to her family, completely ignores herself and never gives up.

It is clearly an example of a film that not everyone will appreciate. Sometimes distant, often slow, but it has a "a bit strange, but nice" feeling to me, and also stays very well.


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avatar van Movsin


  • 7818 messages
  • 8161 votes

Touché. Not because of the obnoxious father who sometimes really terrorized his family, but because of the striking situation sketch and atmosphere creation.

Touché. The simple workman's house in the street with the typical wallpaper and wall decoration from that time, the round light switch more than a meter from the ground, the shabby curtains above which a tall "Bobby" was allowed to look inside undisturbed by way of control, the doorstep where it was nice to sit and chat on warm days, the well-known radio voice of the "Weatherforcast" and the one that laconically read the football results and the older family member who looked at his "form" in dismay and realized that he had lost more than "toppence". That same radio - "wireless," they said - that also entertained with his Billy Cotton Band Show and Tom Handley and the pubs with his "pints," "shags," and "fags" and with those typical English heads, rocking arm in arm and.."Roll out the barrel", "If you knew Suzy"..., in unison, but also the "alarms" and the flights to "cellars" and "shelters".

It's all real and so you see that there will be a film that touches you personally and drives you into nostalgia.

I give it a high score, but I was a bit biased.

In concrete terms: "Distant Voices, still Lives" is a fine, intelligent film, built crisscross with a sad theme but peppered with humor, drawn from life, many songs, very good camera work, sufficient variation in dialogue and setting and through all the cast excellent.

interpreted. I'd call it a cross between some Ken Loach social work and Woody Allen's "Radio Days."

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avatar van Woland


  • 4179 messages
  • 3430 votes

My previous experience with Terence Davies was The Long Day Closes, and I really liked that candid portrait of growing up in a working-class family in the 1950s (I think) in Northern England. So now also Distant Voices, Still Lives set up. The films share quite a few similarities, in their setting in 1940s and 1950s Liverpool, and in their fragmentary narrative style that focuses on atmosphere and environment rather than plot. But despite the limited playing time of about 85 minutes, this still felt like a much heavier seat. We first see many childhood scenes in which the authoritarian father (Pete Postlethwaite) takes on the role of man of the house with a heavy hand, and then how the family fills in their social life and family life in the later years. There, too, there is the necessary friction between the ladies and (generally rather clumsy) gentlemen. And above all a lot, a lot of songs, everyone bursts into song at every turn. But I thought the songs were only so-so, and the characters could fascinate me a lot less here than Bud growing up in The Long Day Closes. Cinematographically this is also fine in itself, but it doesn't make it to Die Other Terence Davies. And it remains slow, which in itself does not have to be a problem, but it did nudge further towards 'disappointment' here. Although I'm still curious about what Davies has made next.

dutch flagTranslated from Dutch · View original