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The Long Day Closes

May 9, 2011

The Long Day Closes (1992)
Director: Terence Davies
Actors: Leigh McCormack, Majorie Yates, Anthony Watson

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Synopsis: A young boy Bud (Leigh McCormack) grows up in post-war Liverpool.

Review: This is yet another refined masterpiece from Terence Davies. Loosely similar in style and effect to the more expansive and coruscating Distant Voices, Still Lives of four years previous, The Long Day Closes is in some respects a more concentrated film as it charts allusively the life of a young boy in Fifties’ Liverpool. As symbolised in the film’s title, The Long Day Closes has a ‘paradise lost’ quality to it, as it homes in very sensitively on that crucial turning point in the boy’s life between childhood and adolescence – from the unmistakable faith in a mother and family’s love, and the rapture in simple pleasures like watching the movies or playing in the street, to the gradual encroachment of the institutions of adulthood (school, the church, issues of sexuality). This ‘journey’ isn’t framed so much by conventional dramaturgy, than by the sense that the whole film is a memory – there’s no real linearity, and the aural reminiscences (different forms of music, plus the Ealing comedies and Welles’ The Magnificent Ambersons all figure highly) are as important as the visual ones. I’ve also never seen a filmmaker apart from Andrei Tarkovsky get such sensory power from the use of rainfall, and the opening to the film with its shades of T.S. Eliot’s ‘The Wasteland’ as the camera tracks down a dingy, rainy street before Nat King Cole’s gorgeous “Stardust” kicks in, is one of the most emotive cinematic sequences I can recall. (May 2011)

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