Ray & Liz
Revered photographer Richard Billingham revisits his coming of age in a chaotic council flat in the 1980s, portraying it with a tender, melancholy beauty full of subtle humour and pathos.
In 1996, Richard Billingham published Ray’s a Laugh, an uncompromising set of photos of his alcoholic father Ray and his chain-smoking mother Liz. His feature film debut, Ray & Liz, brings those vivid images to life in three parts across three timeframes. Billingham reanimates the Birmingham council flat in which he and his younger brother were frequently neglected, crafting a stark portrait of life on the margins in Thatcher’s England.
Premiering at the 2018 Locarno Film Festival where it won the Special Jury Prize, Ray & Liz renders these surrounds on 16mm film and with the striking compositions expected from a Turner Prize-nominated artist. What could have been a study in brutality is instead an unsentimental and intensely moving film experience, expressing both anger and love.
“This is an off-kilter, obliquely topical portrait of how grinding poverty begets dysfunction.” – Sight & Sound