Nil By Mouth (1997)
Little Gary appears a few seconds as a bewildered witness to the cruel reality of eastern London suburbia. Mr. Oldman makes his debut as a writer/director with this unpolished, in-your-face rendition of his unglamorous upbringing (allegedly - it is not known how much of this is actually based on Oldman's own experiences). The film is deliberately gritty, never allowing the camera to become more important than the role of observer. Oldman's sense of dialogue and psychological/human knowledge makes the backbone for his brilliant script. A script that doesn't break new ground per se, but that is harrowing and disturbing - easily cutting from the most brutal, unmotivated and realistic domestic violence to the cuddly love between abusive father and neglected daughter. There are no easy escapes and no downright evil in this world, and that is exactly what makes the film such a challenge to watch and such an - at the same time - strenuous and rewarding emotional experience. The acting that Oldman catches on film is at times enormously powerful - with special nods to Winstone, Burke and Creed-Miles. That is Oldman's older sister playing the mother. Nominated for the Golden Palm in Cannes in 1997.