Father Raymond is a chronic alcoholic, while mother Liz spends her time chain-smoking, doing puzzles and sewing heavy metal patches on denim. It’s a no-holds-barred portrait of a family falling apart. But as the tired old saying goes: a terrible childhood is a goldmine for artists and writers. One which in the case of director Richard Billingham is certainly true.

In Ray & Liz, he reconstructs in sublime fashion and with biting humour three episodes from his youth spent in the grimy council estate tower blocks on the outskirts of Birmingham. Despite the poverty and desolation, he conjures up compassion for his circle and finds beauty in his memories. The strong story together with Billingham’s fine eye for composition make for a stunning first feature.

Ray & Liz - first trailer (dir. Richard Billingham)