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Nil By Mouth

4.5 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The dramatically brutal life of a family struggling to get by in South London is unflinchingly depicted in Gary Oldman's debut feature as writer/director. In a moving performance for which she was named Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival, Kathy Burke stars with Ray Winstone, Chalire Creed-Miles, Laila Morse and Edna Dore in this story of love, dependency, abuse and poverty. NIL BY MOUTH features an acclaimed musical score by Eric Clapton.


Gary Oldman took a break from acting to write and direct this unflinching family drama out of the kitchen-sink British school. Oldman doesn't appear in the film, instead handing the heavy lifting to the remarkable Ray Winstone (Sexy Beast, Cold Mountain) and Kathy Burke, who won a prize at the Cannes Film Festival for her work. The scummy drug trade of lower-class London is Oldman's turf, but he puts special focus on the miserable cycles of violence that fuel a family's struggle within this world. The results are not always easy to watch, but they are devastating (and the final sequence is chilling). Oldman may be guilty of indulging his actors a bit, but it's forgivable, given the big, roaring performances. One advantage of watching the movie on DVD, at least for non-British audiences: the chance to check subtitles against the heavily accented dialogue. --Robert Horton

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Edna Dore, Charlie Greed-Miles, Laila Morse, Ray Winstone, Kathy Burke
  • Directors: Gary Oldman
  • Producers: Gary Oldman, Luc Besson, Douglas Urbanski
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: December 23, 2003
  • Run Time: 119 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000SXK0E
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,551 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Nil By Mouth" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
I first heard about this film on Siskel&Ebert and I wanted to see it. My brother found it in a small video store and rented it for me. This may very well be one of the most dark, depressing,and brilliant films I have ever seen.
It's directed by Gary Oldman (known for his acting, or overacting, in Dracula, The Professional etc,) and he proves to be a great director. The movie is about a family with Ray Winstone as Ray, the father/husband of the household and Kathy Burke as Valerie. Ray is a working class lout who abuses both drugs and his wife. His son Billy (played by Charlie Creed-Miles) is a herion addict on the streets after his father nearly bites his nose off for stealing his smack. Ray is at times both scary and pittiful, mean and sad, nasty and pathetic. He intertwines these roles so well that at time's you can't tell where he is coming from, or what he'll do next. Valerie is just a simple wife who is just trying to keep her head down so she doesn't get it taken off. However even she is not imune to Ray's violent temper over nothing. In one very vicious scene she is attacked by Ray and although the beating take's place off-camera it still sends chills.
I must warn anyone who wants to watch this movie the it contains more bad language that any I have ever seen (like Pulp Fiction, Scarface, or even South Park) but the profanity only hightens the dread at times. It also looks at life in a very dark way. This is not a happy movie by any means and Oldman has produced a real masterpiece. This has great acting and real good timing between the actors. This is quite simply one of the best movies I have ever seen.
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Format: VHS Tape
I am one of those people who rates a film on how much I think about it AFTER I have seen it. This film has stuck with me for the better part of two weeks and is easily one of the most original, realistic and powerful movies I have seen in a long time.
Unfolding more as a docu-drama than a traditional story, this movie brings you into the lives of a South London family plauged by a multi-generational cycle of poverty, abuse and addiction.
What separated "Nil By Mouth" from so many other movies about poverty and abuse is that rather than sanitizing it with obvious villians and heros, the characters all contain elements of both. As a contrast, we are also shown their friends, some of whom are worse off and others who have managed to find rewards and happiness in their lives.
Another factor which makes this film so captivating is that the actors truly inhabit their roles and show range and depth that you see from real people but not often enough in a movie.
Addressing the issue of violence in the film, I commend the entire cast and crew for not playing to the obvious shock factor or galmorizing it, but rather showing violence in all of its cold, random reality.
Finally, like all of the other reviewers, I would like to ask where's the Soundtrack?!? The music for this film is fantastic! If any Label Personnel read this, please consider releasing/licensing the music... there is a market for it and it's too good to leave on video.
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Format: VHS Tape
You will not be able to determine that Gary Oldman's first film Nil by Mouth is an acted scripted film rather than a documentary. A great film depicting a working class South London family shot in candid documentary fashion. We focus in on off the cuff conversations, a junkie's (Charlie Creed-Miles) endless search for a fix, a raging alcoholic (Ray Winstone who also starred in Tim Roth's debut The War Zone), and their 4 generation family. As I said I had trouble grasping that the dialogue was actually scripted it's so naturalistic. Such a refreshing contrast to the Hollywood stuff so far removed from naturalistic dialogue it has little to do with reality.
I always considered the soap opera Eastenders to be worthless...kind of weird that the same kind of working class Londoners can be depicted with such depth and power as Nil By Mouth has.
Finally, the psychology behind Ray (Winstone) is delved into to the extent that this brutal guy retains humanity (unlike the Hollywood counterpart which would be a mindlessly cruel non-human monster). It's important to get to the root causes of such things and this great film does (by intentional implication).
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By A Customer on October 15, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
This film really knocked the wind out of me. Despite having very unsettling material, it is a movie that can be enjoyed for it's raw and unappoligetic approach.
Basically the film is about a family in South London. Their everyday life is not exactly the sunniest (to say the very least). The focal characters are Billy, a teenager with a horrible heroine addiction, Ray, a middle age man, who drinks and fights and beats his pregnant wife, Valerie, Billy's sister. And that is what the film is about.

This an interesting film. It is very anti-Hollywood. There is no real narrative structure to it. The film begins and ends with the characters being presented at no particularly significant places in their lives. Their is no rising action, or climax, but this is not to say that this film does not deliver several defining moments for the characters. None harder to watch then Ray beating Valerie and then destroying their flat in a drunken rage.
The performances in this film are amazing. Oldman has presented them in their environment, without judgement, and the results are so effective. Especially Ray Winstone and Kathy Burke (Ray and Valerie). These two actors deliver some of the most devastatingly realistic characters strugling internally, against their family, and against each other. The supporting cast does not miss a beat either.

Gary Oldman wrote and directed this film. He is from South London and curiously dedicated the film to his own father. This raisied an eyebrow from me. Indeed this film is so brutally real it could almost pass for a documentary. A truely impressive film.
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