Metascore
74

Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 25
  2. Negative: 1 out of 25
  1. Downbeat, ultimately tragic, but there's a wondrous, sad beauty here.
  2. 91
    It's almost numbingly sad, but you won't regret watching -- and you'll surely never forget it.
  3. There is something about Stephen Frears' complex, heartbreaking, beautifully made Liam that seems to speak eloquently, painfully to the dilemmas we are facing today, to the terrible price dark times can extort from us all.
  4. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    90
    Unsparing but never unsympathetic, emerges as one of the year's best, most brutally honest movies.
  5. Stephen Frears's stunning Liam, -- a vivid, intense evocation of another British time and place.
  6. It is through the genius of Frears, screenwriter Jimmy McGovern and this talented cast that Liam lets no one off the hook, least of all the audience.
  7. 88
    Some will find Dad's last big act in the movie too melodramatic. I think it follows from a certain logic, and leads to the very last shot, which is heartbreaking in its tenderness.
  8. The acting -- especially by Borrows, Ian Hart and Hackett -- is strong and transparent, utterly convincing. The whole movie has a seamless flow and an utterly convincing sense of time and place.
  9. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    88
    Ultimately grim, Liam is ripe in humanity --and even comedy.
  10. 80
    Liam is mostly an emotionally devastating chronicle of the disintegration of a family. The entire cast is superb, but Frears has cast two screen naturals in the lead roles.
  11. Reviewed by: David Stratton
    80
    This depiction of the trials and tribulations of a working-class Catholic family during the Depression is a far more intimate viewing experience than the similarly themed "Angela's Ashes."
  12. 75
    Director Frears, in a radical shift from "High Fidelity," again (as in "Dangerous Liaisons") shows he's a master of period detail and subtle storytelling -- and the performances couldn't be more on the money.
  13. While there are similarities to the hardscrabble saga of "Angela's Ashes," Frears' film avoids the mawkish pitfalls of Alan Parker's screen adaptation.
  14. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    75
    Frears makes every note count for a lot in this beautifully gauged microcosm of big emotions expressed in small gestures.
  15. What's left at the end is an emotionally restrained vision of harsh, impoverished lives, more thoughtful than affecting, and never less than gorgeous, but so unfocused it leaves only scattered impressions.
  16. Has some rapturously observant sequences concerning childhood.
  17. Walks the delicate boundary between politically inflected realism and costumed sentimentality.
  18. Though the film came out a year ago in the U.K., the timing here is unfortunate, and one has to wish that, like so many bigger productions, Liam could have migrated to a more-distant release date.
  19. 63
    Wields some power, but it's hard to shake the feeling you've seen it all before.
  20. Handsomely mounted but disappointingly slight.
  21. 60
    At once a heartfelt story about a family undone by violence and an overburdened allegory of fascism.
  22. 60
    Acting is the strongest element in Stephen Frears's Liam.
  23. 60
    A realist mode that strains credibility; it's tenuous and inflexible -- and easily ruptured by the contrived irony in Jimmy McGovern's screenplay.
  24. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    50
    For what amounts to a fairly sentimental glance backward, the film is oddly styled; Andrew Dunn (who also shot the baroque "Monkeybone") favors oblique angles and lighting worthy of an Italian horror movie.
  25. Reviewed by: Staff (Not credited)
    12
    Liam's deck is stacked. It's too bleak and filled with abrasive characters who don't deserve our sympathy to reveal much new about the human condition.