Gary Oldman took a break from acting to write and direct this unflinching family drama out of the kitchen-sink British school. Oldman doesn't appear in the film, instead handing the heavy lifting to the remarkable Ray Winstone (Sexy Beast
, Cold Mountain
) and Kathy Burke, who won a prize at the Cannes Film Festival for her work. The scummy drug trade of lower-class London is Oldman's turf, but he puts special focus on the miserable cycles of violence that fuel a family's struggle within this world. The results are not always easy to watch, but they are devastating (and the final sequence is chilling). Oldman may be guilty of indulging his actors a bit, but it's forgivable, given the big, roaring performances. --Robert Horton
Gary Oldman writes and directs this gritty drama, based in part on his own experience of growing up in London with an alcoholic father. In South London, petty criminal Ray (Ray Winstone) is violent and abusive towards his wife, Valerie (Kathy Burke). After carrying out a scam with Valerie's heroin-addicted brother, Billy (Charlie Creed-Miles), Ray beats him up, convinced that Billy has ripped him off. Valerie confesses to her friends that she would like to leave Ray, but feels that she can't as she has one child already and another on the way. Winner of Best Film BAFTA 1998.