Sandeman (Harris) is introduced in baronial splendour posing for a photograph with wife (Redgrave) and their three daughters. He soon embarks, however, on a self-destructive descent, shedding his empire as his mind grows unsettled following his wife's murder. Director and co-writer Boyd and cameraman Aukema strive to honour the distinctive Liverpool milieu, while giving a new spin to the standard tough guy antics, but the play for tragic grandeur falters. Harris makes a convincing King Lear, yet draws attention to his own restraint as life and illusions begin to unravel. Lombard and Pilkington play the 'bad' daughters with an arresting if rough-edged venom and vitality; but Catherwood, the Cordelia-like straight talking favourite, seems all at sea. The lofty tone begs for a critical stance, but Boyd's evident seduction by the tainted glamour and old-fashioned ways of the criminal class strands the movie in a waste land, neither effective gangland thriller, nor achieved elegy for a lord undone.