Sensational – in its own way.
Richard Billingham first made his own family the central core to his art back in 1996 when along with the Tracy Emin’s unmade bed, Marcus Harvey’s Myra Hindley picture and Damien Hirst’s shark, British art became the pinnacle of cool in ‘Sensations’.
Billingham’s book was made up of candid photographs of his parents at home surrounded by home-brew, jigsaws and flying cats. The photos were grotesque, intimate and beautiful. They were snapshots of life seen not through
Ray and Liz
In some ways there are some similarities with Gary Oldman’s ‘Nil by Mouth’, both movies are brutally honest and unflinching memoirs of troubled families but while Oldman’s story is more expansive, Ray & Liz is beautifully observed, focusing on the minutiae of dysfunctionality in a world before the Internet, Mobile phones or Satellite TV and where the kids weren’t so much as an afterthought, more like a forgotten thought.
What drew me into the film was Billingham’s ability to capture the little details of his childhood that resonated with my own. The three-bar electric fire, the budgie, the video nasties, the big jar of beetroot and the public phone box. In the age of larger than life, comic book movies, the cinema has predominately become a place to escape reality and in that
Ray & Liz is out now.
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