Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988) - Rotten Tomatoes

Distant Voices, Still Lives1988

Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988)



Critic Consensus: Bracingly original and beautifully composed, Distant Voices, Still Lives is an invigorating period drama that finds director Terence Davies in peak form.

Distant Voices, Still Lives Photos

Movie Info

Thirty years after its initial release, one of the most acclaimed films in British cinema history returns to the big screen in a new 4K digital print restored by the BFI from the original camera negative. Terence Davies' partly autobiographical tale evokes his upbringing in Liverpool after the war in a working-class home dominated by the violence of his father, fearsomely played by then newcomer Pete Postlethwaite. Using dynamic lighting, a superb soundtrack and a fragmented structure, Davies constructs a distinctive drama suffused with both beauty and horror. The film was voted the third greatest British film of all-time in a 2011 Time Out poll. (35mm print is from 2007 restoration).

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Sally Davies
as Young Eileen
Nathan Walsh
as Tony as a child
Susan Flanagan
as Maisie as a child
Anne Dyson
as Granny
Jean Boht
as Aunty Nell
Judith Barker
as Rose's Family
Chris Benson
as Rose's Family
Alan Bird
as Baptismal Priest
Matthew Long
as Mr. Spaull
Carl Chase
as Uncle Ted
Roy Ford
as Wedding Priest
John Carr
as Registrar
John Michie
as Soldier
Terry Melia
as Military Policeman
Ina Clough
as Licensee
Lorraine Michaels
as Rose's Family
John Thomalla
as Military Policeman
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Critic Reviews for Distant Voices, Still Lives

All Critics (39) | Top Critics (18)

For all the formal technique and the theatrically controlled tableaux, the drama is vividly present and alive.

August 30, 2018 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…


August 28, 2018 | Full Review…

With an unfailing eye for place, décor, costume, and gesture, the director glides his camera through tangles of memories to evoke joys and horrors with a similar sense of wonder.

September 22, 2014 | Full Review…

A gripping and original piece of work, itself sure to be remembered as one of the finest films of the year.

June 2, 2014 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Just as you think you have its moves all doped out, a scene of such shocking beauty flashes before you that it takes your breath away.

June 2, 2014 | Full Review…

When a forty-four-year-old man makes a movie about his family and friends sitting around singing old tunes, you certainly don't expect an unforgettable amalgam of humor and heartbreak. But that is precisely what Terence Davies delivers.

June 2, 2014 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Distant Voices, Still Lives


Terence Davis moving, harrowing and elegantly artistic masterpiece is one of the few Britsh films of recent years to embody a distinctly British identity. The plot involves a family wedding in working class Liverpool just after the second world war and the various episodes in the family's past dealing with their sometimes brutal and disturbed father. The beauty of the film lies in the deeply artistic composition of various shots, coupled with Davis' enduring compassion and understanding for the chararcters, especially the father played brilliantly by Pete Postlethwaite. It is an incredible evocation of family life and even though at times it makes for hard viewing, this is a film that must be seen.

Cassandra Maples
Cassandra Maples

Super Reviewer


Terence Davies's autobiographical film of working-class life in 1940s/50s Liverpool. A brilliant, emotional and powerful film full of great acting. The story is told through memories and switches between childhood and adulthood. Unique and highly recommended.

Emily B.
Emily B.

Super Reviewer


Pete Postlethwaite never made enough films for me. A great earlier performance from him here.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

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