Distant Voices, Still Lives

Distant Voices, Still Lives ★★★★½

A riveting, yet tenderly assembled, remembrance of familial trials. The music and visuals here managed to work in ways that were confrontational, yet somehow true-to-life in their depiction of how these people have become so bonded together. There isn't a single moment of this film that doesn't feel disingenuous or anything less than starkly and hauntingly real. These people feel so much like a real family, almost like one we know, and the level of detail placed into how the delicate balance is tightened and weaved more intricately through the ways in which they comfort one another with song. While, on the outside, this appears to be a novelty, Davies infuses the lyrical content with an appropriate thoughtfulness that gives it an additional layer of substance. In short, the substance is the style. An ever evolving tryptic of difficult and morally complex issues dissolved with the power and magic of expression. DISTANT VOICES, STILL LIVES is the kind of picture that aspires to depict the brief little magical moments in life that provide us with the strength to not allow our existences to be cluttered with despair. In short, it is about as human as a family saga about abuse and alcoholism can be without being overwrought with melodrama. The parts of the film where there is "melodrama" never feel overwhelming or inappropriate. In fact, it often only happens due to the passionate nature of its characters. A lovely and vibrant picture that is flawless, or nearly so, in every way. My only disappointment is that it isn't longer. But...no great film ever feels long enough, really.