Neon Bible, The B-
A young boy comes of age in rural Georgia during the 1940s in Terence Davies’ visually powerful but thematically flawed drama, “The Neon Bible.”
Acclaimed for his stylized evocative reflections of his past, growing up in England in post WWII, Davies now 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 teenager struggling to deal with everyday life in a troubled family. David 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.
David’s recollections make up the loose plot, which stresses intense images and poetic touches over narrative momentum. Working with the cinematographer Michael Coulter, Davies creates sharp, painterly compositions.
Some critics and viewers were frustrated by text’s slow pacing, recurrent imagery of a sad, lonely boy in a railroad cae, and elliptical style, though others were impressed by the poetic approach and the dreamlike, hallucinatory quality of the narrative.
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