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Ray & Liz

Richard Billingham
UK 2018 / 108’
Koko-di Koko-da Take Me Somewhere Nice

In a communal apartment in the suburbs of Birmingham, Liz loves to solve puzzles. Bent over a table, she tries to make the pieces fit together as her own life is crumbling all around her. Billingham talks about life on the margins, which is a progressive process of isolation: from the city center, from society, from other people, from oneself. No wonder that unpaid electricity and gas bills, and the related threat of being cut off, form a leitmotif that runs throughout the story. People like Ray and Liz are said to be “dysfunctional,” but the director doesn’t judge them or their efforts to stay afloat. Instead, he sketches a poignant image of an inert system (in Great Britain at the time of Thatcher) that helps people survive while, at the same time, keeping them in a state of pathological poverty. The director is interested in the details, trivial situations that paint a picture of the state of material and spiritual poverty—the lengths that the children go to in order to get away from their pit of domestic chaos. Billingham has created a collection of gestures and glimpses of intimacy—of heroic efforts to preserve an appearance of normalcy. The director puts his characters in a particular light, gilding the booze-loving Ray’s loneliness with rays of sunshine and immersing the cheap-cigarette-smoking Liz in an ennobling semi-darkness, as if she were the subject of a great work of art.

Małgorzata Sadowska

Richard Billingham

Richard Billingham, a photographer, director and visual artist, was nominated for the prestigious Turner Prize in 2001. His works have been exhibited at, among other places, London’s Tate gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum, as well as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. In 1996, the legendary collector Charles Saatchi included Billingham’s work in the exhibition Sensation, a collection of works by Britain’s top young artists. He is the winner of a Deutsche Börse Photography Prize. Ray & Liz is the latest example of Billingham returning to his family home and his parents. In 1996, he released a photo album called Ray's a Laugh, and he made the installation Ray a decade or so later.


1998 Liz Smoking (short)

1998 Fishtank (short) 

1999 Playstation (short) 

2016 Ray (short) 

2018 Ray & Liz 

Cast & Crew

director Richard Billingham
screenplay Richard Billingham
cinematography Daniel Landin
editing Tracy Granger
cast Ella Smith, Justin Salinger, Patrick Romer, Deirde Kelly
producer Jacqui Davies
production Primitive Film
sales Luxbox
language English
colouration colour