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The Neon Bible

✭ ✭ ✭   Read critic reviews

United Kingdom, Spain
·
1995

1h 31m

Director Terence Davies
Starring Jacob Tierney, Drake Bell, Gena Rowlands, Diana Scarwid

Genre Drama

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While on a train, a teenage boy thinks about his life and the flamboyant aunt whose friendship acted as an emotional shield from his troubled family. This film evokes the haunting quality of memory while creating a heartfelt portrait of a boy's life in a rural 1940s Southern town.

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WHAT ARE CRITICS SAYING?

40

Empire by

Painstakingly shot, but emotionally fallow.
75

San Francisco Chronicle by Edward Guthmann

The Neon Bible is a lovely, rewarding film, but it requires some work and some faith on the part of the viewer. Davies' rhythms and camera moves are as slow and stately as ever -- the antithesis of most Hollywood films -- and the moments of crystallized emotion he achieves are sometimes separated by dull patches and self-conscious artiness.
80

Time Out London by Geoff Andrew

Though the writer/director is working abroad and telling a linear story, it's immediately apparent - from the measured pacing, the immaculate compositions and elegant camera movements, the audacious ellipses and the inspired use of music - that this is a hallmarked Davies film. As such, it is extraordinarily moving, notably in a simple, underplayed death scene. Gena Rowlands' performance is a marvel of subtle nuances.
63

Boston Globe by Jay Carr

The Neon Bible doesn't always supply the depth or underpinning its images demand, but there's nice work in it, and it won't bore you. [19 Apr 1996, p.55]
75

Chicago Reader by Jonathan Rosenbaum

There are many fleeting poetic moments in The Neon Bible--moments so ecstatic that you may feel yourself rising off your seat. And if much of the rest of the movie tends to be clunky as narrative, that's a small price to pay for pieces of enlightenment you can happily carry around inside your head for months.
80

Los Angeles Times by Kevin Thomas

The Neon Bible is elegiac, formal and sometimes boldly stylized. The result is an extraordinary experience in which the familiar is made deeply and effectively unsettling.
50

The New York Times by Stephen Holden

When a poetically inclined film fixates on the same image too often, it is a sign that the movie may have succumbed to its own dreamy esthetic. That is one of the problems of The Neon Bible, the English director Terence Davies's hallucinatory portrait of the American South half a century ago.
50

Austin Chronicle by Steve Davis

Davies tells David's story in a striking series of tableaux and dioramas, all impeccably executed to the last detail. As in Martin Scorsese's work, there's a great deal of control in Davies' directorial style, to the point that it seems totally lacking in spontaneity. But unlike a Scorsese movie, The Neon Bible implodes rather than explodes.

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