Film Scouts Reviews

"Nil by Mouth"

by Cari Beauchamp

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Five minutes into "Nil by Mouth", written and directed by Gary Oldman, the dream of magic is gone and the only hope that remains is that something will soon emerge that will make one of these characters sympathetic. I keep listening for the original music of Eric Clapton, but over half of the sentences in the dialogue so far are "f-kin' this" and "f-kin' that." It fact, there are so many f-kin's that it is difficult to hear the words that proceed or follow.

Billy,(Charlie Creed-Miles) Ray (Ray Winstone) and their pals snort up, tell of orgies past, go to a strip bar, and beat each other and others to a pulp. The advance press summary billed this as "an ordinary family in South London."

Fifteen minutes into the film I started to hear the filmmaker's dreaded "clacks" - the noise the seats in the theater makes as it flips up when a member of the audience rises to leave. Three women walk out, five women walk out, there goes another half dozen.

All women. Still I stayed. This was Gary Oldman's first time directing - he had written it - there was no denying his talent as an actor and he seemed so intelligent and creative. If I wait, I tell myself, I will be rewarded.

As the men continue to call their women "cunts" and fight each other with such scintillating dialogue as "You fucking asshole, you dog" and "You're a fucking dog, you asshole" my mind starts to wander to Isabella Rossellini. She spent at least a year living with Oldman didn't she...There must be some redeeming qualities here I am missing.Then my mind wanders back over the years to Blue Velvet and her years with David Lynch. The deep and overwhelming misogyny of these two men sweeps over me. I think of Giles Jacob watching this film and choosing it over hundreds of others. Still I am hopeful, I will stay. I look at my watch. It is 9:30 in the morning.

When Ray wakes up his pregnant wife to accuse her of sleeping with a man he saw her playing pool with, I start to lose any remaining hope that these are people I want to spend time with - the ultimate criteria for keeping me in the theater. As he hits and kicks her out of camera range, yelling "You cunt, you cunt, you f-kin' cunt" my seat clacks as join the most recent batch of women walking out. It has gone beyond caring - I can not subject myself to this for one more minute.

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