The Back Crack Boy
Review by Ross Anthony

In the opening sequence, a dashing father charms his family with the simple act of shaving off his mustache. This 1930's Irish Liverpool family will find moments of such blissful contentment a monumental task as England falls into a Liamdepression. Money evaporates, fueling heated tempers and the ugly unforgiving finger of blame.

Sit back and view this sparkling cinematic experience through the eyes of seven year old Liam Sullivan. Caring attention to the details of childhood import and the expert cinematography and art direction give "Liam" the warmth of a coal burning stove on a hardwood kitchen floor on a brisk British evening.

The story weaves well, sharing tales of the daughter's work experience for rich Jewish family, Liam's eye-popping fire & brimstone Catholic education, Mom's struggles to keep the family afloat, and dad's trials with unemployment, pride, and bigotry for the Jews.

Though the threads seem to weave skillfully, the resulting tapestry is coarse, abrasively contrasting the comfort of the picture on the screen. In fact, I struggled to understand the point of the tale at all. Perhaps to make a statement about the dangers of pride and prejudice, perhaps a historic pre-WWII narrative. In any event, the film ends abruptly with a dissonant note of irony, belying the comfort and resolution that audiences may be expecting.

(Btw, excellent production stills)

  • Liam. Copyright © 2001. NYR.
  • Starring Ian Hart, Claire Hackett, Anne Reid, Anthony Borrows (Lian), David Hart, Megan Burns.
  • Directed by Stephen Frears. Art Direction: Hannah Moseley.
  • Director of Photography: Andrew Dunn.
  • Written by Jimmy McGovern.
  • Inspired by the book "Back Crack Boy".
  • Produced by Colin McKeown, Martin Tempia at Lions Gate.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:04:52 PDT