Directed by Gary Oldman
Starring Ray Winstone, Kathy Burke, Charlie Creed-Miles
Newly remastered by the BFI National Archive for its 25th anniversary, Gary Oldman’s directorial debut, which won two BAFTAs for Best British Film and Best Original Screenplay, remains an unflinchingly authentic dark and dazzling masterpiece.
Set in the same south-east London streets where he himself had grown up, Oldman’s debut as a writer-director is an uncompromisingly frank and powerfully astute portrait of a particular sector of working-class family life, one marked by unfettered machismo, booze and drugs, petty crime, domestic abuse and hair-trigger violence. Shot and scripted in a deceptively casual realist style reminiscent of 70s Cassavetes, this profoundly personal and humane film eschews sensationalism and sentimentality to illuminate a vicious circle of abuse and criminality. Oldman draws stunning performances from his cast, in particular from Ray Winstone as the rage-filled patriarch Ray, and Kathy Burke, who won Best Actress at Cannes for her performance as Ray’s wife Val, who yearns for more from life than the cycle of abuse and low expectations.