Claire Hackett

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Liam Review


Good
Stuttering Liam (Anthony Borrows) has problems like you wouldn't believe. For starters, he lives in Liverpool during the Depression. He's also pummelled with Catholic doctrine at school. Dad's out of work. Sis has to work as a maid for a wealthy Jewish family. And of course, there's the stutter.

Stephen Frears (High Fidelity) directs this powerful and moving work about a small facet of the past, and it's interesting to see him work without his trademark, wry humor as found in similar working-class-in-the-UK productions like The Van and The Snapper. Ian Hart is apt as the down-and-out father who gets sucked into anti-Jewish Fascism (thus endangering poor sis's breadwinning), and Borrows is a put-upon and precocious (yet not disgustingly so) kid in the tradition of Angela's Ashes.

Continue reading: Liam Review

Liam Review


OK

Directed by the versatile and perceptive Stephen Frears, "Liam" is a refreshingly modest, yet very affecting look at the bleak life of struggling class Catholics in 1930s Liverpool, as seen through the eyes of a 7-year-old boy.

Similar in setting, circumstance, atmosphere and sooty sense of humor to 1999's Irish poverty yarn "Angela's Ashes," but more a depiction of simple hardship than abject misery (no dying siblings or shoes resoled with old bicycle tires), the focus of the film is sweetly mischievous little Liam (Anthony Burrows). He's a cheerful, cherubic lad turned shy and quiet because of a wicked stuttering problem and the frightful reprimands of domineering Catholic school teachers who spend much more time browbeating the children with ominous dogma than they do exercising the three Rs.

"Your soul is filthy!" his harridan of a schoolmarm barks. "Sin drives the nails deeper into the hands of Christ!" bellows his ruddy zealot of a priest, who also comes knocking on the family's door every payday to requisition a cut of father's wages for the coffer.

Continue reading: Liam Review

Claire Hackett

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