The Neon Bible

Any doubts about The Neon Bible‘s claim to the status of Serious Film can be retired by its video release, where the proof is in the letterboxing. That is not to say it’s in the pudding, too. Director Terence Davies (Distant Voices, Still Lives) attempts another strangely evocative look at growing up among the dark ghosts of family secrets — this time inspired by the ’40s gothic South of writer John Kennedy Toole — but the effect is bloodless and inscrutable. As usual, the incomparable Rowlands delivers a fine performance as Aunt May, a long-in-the-tooth club singer; and Diana Scarwid does a praiseworthy turn as the mad mother of a sensitive teenager (Jacob Tierney). But the trio only ends up caught in the sticky web of Davies’ too-lovingly composed images. Unfortunately, this is the kind of near miss that shows how cinematic pretensions are far easier to come by than the ability to fulfill them. C+

The Neon Bible
  • Movie
  • 91 minutes