out of Five
Running time: 74
Engaging, heartfelt and impeccably directed, this is an achingly personal documentary that packs a powerful emotional punch.
What's it all about?
Of Time and the City came about when British director Terence Davies (Distant Voices, Still Lives, The House of Mirth) was invited to make a film about his beloved Liverpool, in order to mark the city's status as European Capital of Culture. Following its rapturous Cannes debut, it received glowing reviews at Edinburgh and is now playing the London Film Festival before getting a theatrical release on October 31st.
Working with a loyal team of researchers, Davies has assembled a wealth of gorgeous archive footage of Liverpool from the 1940s onwards, showing how the city changed from the 1940s to the 1960s. The film is overlaid with specially-chosen pieces of classical music and Davies quoting poetry and reading famous quotations, as well as giving his own recollections about growing up in Liverpool, going to the cinema for the first time and, in one particularly enjoyable sequence, ranting about the monarchy.
The film is beautifully edited and flows together seamlessly, so that it's almost dreamlike in places, especially in the way it shifts topic so easily. As such, it would make a superb city nostalgia double bill with Guy Madden's My Winnipeg, which it closely resembles at times.
Davies' narration is genuinely engaging, containing personal anecdotes (e.g. lusting after professional wrestlers) and memories of his childhood. This open-hearted approach (a sequence where Davies rants about slum housing reminds you how unusual it is for documentary narration to be delivered angrily) results in a powerfully moving experience.
Of Time and the City is a stunningly beautiful, genuinely moving film that cements Davies' status as one of Britain's greatest living filmmakers. Don't miss it.
Of Time And The City