Not so much an 'I had it tough' catalogue of economic and physical hardships as a strangely stirring account of human dignity triumphing over emotional and spiritual confusion. And indeed, the form reflects this, transforming Liverpudlian Robert Tucker's development - from victimised schoolboy, through a Catholic closet-gay middle-age, to death in a hospital - into a rich, resonant tapestry of impressionistic detail. There is plenty to enjoy: a bleak, wry wit and an imaginative use of music undercutting the grim but beautiful imagery; flashes of surrealism; and superb performances throughout (none more so than Brambell as the 80-year-old Tucker, wordlessly struggling the last few steps to meet his Maker). But what really elevates the films into their own timeless realm is the luminous attention to faces in close-up: a stylish strategy that turns an otherwise chastening look at a lonely man's life into an uplifting experience. (The film is in three parts: Children, 1974; Madonna and Child, 1980; Death and Transfiguration, 1983.
The Terence Davies Trilogy
Cast and crew