This adaptation of John Kennedy Toole's novel returns to the concerns of Terence Davies' acclaimed autobiographical work: the joys and agonies of family life; the onset of adulthood; the oppressive hypocrisy of organised religion. Here, however, instead of Liverpool, the setting is small-town Georgia in the '40s: life is quiet for young Tierney, son of struggling farmer Leary and hyper-sensitive Scarwid, until the sudden and not entirely unwelcome arrival of his aunt (Rowlands), a has-been but eternally optimistic nightclub singer whose devil-may-care ways sit awkwardly with the town's conservatism. Though the writer/director is working abroad and telling a linear story, it's immediately apparent - from the measured pacing, the immaculate compositions and elegant camera movements, the audacious ellipses and the inspired use of music - that this is a hallmarked Davies film. As such, it is extraordinarily moving, notably in a simple, underplayed death scene. Gena Rowlands' performance is a marvel of subtle nuances.
The Neon Bible
Cast and crew