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Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988)

Family Life — Written by lezard on 19.11.2021

Voices. Distant because they are far away but vividly alive. Unforgettable. Not the still lives, a play on words suggested by the title, but photos, screenshots coming back to life, from the past. Family photos, weddings, baptisms, funerals.

Liverpool in the 40's and 50's. A family of workers, a violent father, a loving mother, friends.

First feature-length film by Terence Davis, a great move and a great movie.
Childhood, teen-age revisited, we have seen this dozens of times but the magic works here. Camera movements forward to get closer to regained time, a time that memory dismantled. Therefore chronology is « dismembered » too, but it's beside the point. The point is thoses faces, those warm lights inside the houses which cluster into an intimate and modest fresco.
A nice feeling of déja-vu.
Plus the voices that inhabit these lives which give them a rythm and makes them bearable, more than once. Songs are the « coup de maître » of the movie. These people sing, at the pub, at the church, on the train, at home, for ceremonies. These songs are their soul, their life, their strength. These songs are the books they can't write, the statues they can't sculpt., their work of art.
It's deeply moving, deeply beautiful and sounds deeply true.

They live, they get married, they beget children, they work, they die...and whatever happens, they sing.
This movie is also a song in its own way.

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