Release year: 2009
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A young boy comes of age in rural Georgia during the 1940s in Terence Davies' challenging, visually powerful drama.
Acclaimed for his nostalgic, beautifully photographed reflections on England's past (The Long Day Closes, Distant Voices, Still Lives), Davies looks beyond his home country to America with this adaptation of a novel by John Kennedy Toole, author of A Confederacy of Dunces.
The film is told through the eyes of David (Jacob Tierney), a teenage boy struggling to deal with life in a troubled family. He reflects on his youthful experiences of his father (Denis Leary), an abusive, impoverished worker who disappeared during World War II after enlisting in the army.
David is left to care for his increasingly unstable mother (Diana Scarwid) with the help of his Aunt Mae (Gena Rowlands), a lively big band singer. With David's recollections making up the loose plot, The Neon Bible stresses memorably intense images over narrative momentum, with cinematographer Michael Coulter creating sharp, painterly compositions.
Some viewers will likely be frustrated by the slow pace and elliptical style, though others may be transfixed by the often stunning photography and poetic approach.