Liam (film)

Directed by Stephen Frears
Produced by Colin McKeown
Martin Tempia
Written by Jimmy McGovern
Starring Ian Hart
Claire Hackett
Anne Reid
Anthony Borrows
Megan Burns
Music by John Murphy
Cinematography Andrew Dunn
Edited by Kristina Hetherington
Distributed by Lionsgate
Release dates
Running time
91 minutes
Country United States
United Kingdom
Box office $1,945,689[1]

Liam is a 2000 British-German film directed by Stephen Frears and written by novelist/screenwriter Jimmy McGovern. McGovern (perhaps best known as the creator of British TV crime drama Cracker) adapted Joseph Mckeown's novel Back Crack Boy into this emotionally raw meditation on innocence and pain. Frears in turn was influenced by James Joyce's accounts of his stern childhood in late 19th century Catholic Dublin.

Megan Burns won the Marcello Mastroianni Award at the 57th Venice International Film Festival for her performance.


Set in Liverpool in the Great Depression of the 1930s, the story is told through the eyes of Liam Sullivan (Anthony Borrows). Liam is taking religious instruction lessons in preparation for his First Communion. His mother (Claire Hackett) is a staunch Roman Catholic. His father (Ian Hart) loses his job when the shipyard he works for closes. Meanwhile his sister Teresa (Megan Burns) has taken a job as maid for the wealthy Jewish family who own the shipyard.

Liam stutters badly under stress, and his strict religious education does not help. The Jewish lady of the house that Teresa works for is having an affair, and the girl becomes an accomplice. Liam's father joins a group of fascists, who rail against rich Jews and cheap Irish labour. His brother secretly attends meetings with socialists. But all this is just a microcosm of a more general breakdown.

Life becomes increasingly more insecure and people retreat ever more desperately into their own belief systems. This only leads to increasing conflict, leading inexorably to a single violent act .


  1. "Liam (2001)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 9 October 2011.

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