January 15, 2021
I didn't quite know what to expect, but this film turned out to be pretty interesting. At its core Distant Voices, Still Lives is a hardened social drama, but its unique presentation sets it apart from its peers. It's still quite dark and sullen, but it's a lot less dependent on its narrative and its suffering characters.
The film follows the lives of a working-class family in Liverpool during the 40s and 50s. There isn't really a straight narrative, though there are two separate parts of which the first deals with the father of the family, the second with his kids. We see small vignettes that, after a while, start to paint a more complete picture.
I don't really care for the setting, nor do I have a lot of affinity with the time period, but the presentation pulled me in and kept me engaged. Stark framing and a strong focus on music make for harrowing scenes, though Davies leaves plenty of room for lighter moments, so it's not all doom and gloom. I did get a little tired of the many songs and once I got a firm handle on the presentation things got a little less interesting, but overall a worthy arthouse classic.