A working class British family struggles with their demons -- sometimes violently -- in this intensely emotional drama that marked the directorial debut of actor Gary Oldman. Janet (Laila Morse) is a widowed factory worker who shares her home with her aged mother Kath (Edna Dore), her daughter Valerie (Kathy Burke), her son Billy (Charlie Creed-Miles), and Valerie's husband Ray (Ray Winstone). Ray is an unstable and out-of-work alcoholic who often uses his pregnant wife as a punching bag, while Billy is a drug addict whose habit has led Janet to throw him out of the house more then once, only to take him back later. Janet is uncertain about what to do when Ray's latest tirade sends Valerie to the emergency room, and Janet also has to come to terms with the financial and emotional costs of Billy's addiction. Kathy Burke, Ray Winstone, and Laila Morse all received prizes from the 1997 British Independent Film Awards for their work in Nil by Mouth; Burke also received Best Actress honors at that year's Cannes Film Festival.
by Mark Deming synopsis