Derek Winnert


This article was written on 14 Mar 2017, and is filled under Reviews.

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The Long Day Closes **** (1992, Leigh McCormack, Marjorie Yates, Anthony Watson) – Classic Movie Review 5154

Writer-director Terence Davies’s lovely 1992 British labour of love film is his first since his 1988 Distant Voices, Still Lives, and is the third film in his entrancing autobiographical trilogy.

Leigh McCormack stars as Bud in an autobiographical tale of an 11-year-old boy growing up in a terraced house in mid-Fifties Liverpool with his recently widowed Mother (Marjorie Yates), sister and two brothers. The boy’s happiness is marred by his struggle to adapt at a new school but he discovers the cinema, there is music on the radio, rain on the streets, and love from his family.

Perhaps this montage of memory is fragment of undramatic material. It is true that there is no story as such and that nothing really happens. The boy stares out the window a lot, made happy by small things, finding comfort and escape from his dreary childhood in the picture house.

But the film is work of art, made magnetic by the power of Davies’s technique and endlessly roving camera. Music plays a great part in these people’s lives and there is an endless cornucopia of Fifties music on the soundtrack.

The performances are faultless, with Yates and McCormack quite wonderful. The street sets are exactly right in Christopher Hobbs’s production designs, and Michael Coulter’s Eastmancolor cinematography too, bringing the Fifties vibrantly back to life.

Maybe the film is not major but it is perfect, and how often can you say that?

On its premiere at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival, it got a 10-minute standing ovation though its nomination for the Palme d’Or didn’t turn into a win. Davies had to be content with winning the 1993 Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Screenplay. There wasn’t even a nomination from the London Film Critics.

Also in the cast are Anthony Watson, Nicholas Lamont, Ayse Owens, Jimmy Wilde, Patricia Morison and Tina Malone.

Davies’s next films were The Neon Bible (1995) and The House of Mirth (2000), followed in 2016 by A Quiet Passion.

© Derek Winnert 2017 Classic Movie Review 5154

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