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Nil by Mouth (film)


Nil by Mouth (film)

Nil by Mouth
Directed by Gary Oldman
Produced by Gary Oldman
Douglas Urbanski
Luc Besson
Written by Gary Oldman
Starring Ray Winstone
Kathy Burke
Charlie Creed-Miles
Music by Eric Clapton
Cinematography Ron Fortunato
Edited by Brad Fuller
Distributed by Fox Film Corporation (United Kingdom)
ARP Sélection (France)
Release dates
  • 8 May 1997 (1997-05-08) (Cannes Film Festival)
  • 10 October 1997 (1997-10-10) (United Kingdom)
  • 5 November 1997 (1997-11-05) (France)
Running time
128 minutes[1]
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $9 million[2]
Box office $266,130[2]

Nil by Mouth is a 1997 British-French drama film portraying a family of characters living in South East London. It was Gary Oldman's debut as a writer and director; the film was produced by Douglas Urbanski and Luc Besson. It stars Ray Winstone as Raymond, the abusive husband of Valerie (Kathy Burke). The film was a critical success, winning numerous awards.

Time Out considered Nil by Mouth to be the 21st best British film.[3]


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
  • Release 4
  • Reception 5
  • Awards and nominations 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


In a working class London district lives Raymond, his wife Valerie, her brother Billy, Billy's mother Janet and their grandmother Kath. Billy is a drug addict whom Raymond kicks out. The family is dysfunctional, mostly due to Raymond's short temper and violent outbursts.



The film depicts the environment Oldman witnessed growing up on a council estate in South East London. Oldman's sister Laila Morse plays Janet and his mother voices a song in the film. The title is a medical instruction (literally "nothing by mouth"), meaning that a patient must not take food or water. It is set to the soundtrack "Peculiar Groove" by Frances Ashman.


In 2001, Mind The Gap Theatre performed a stage adaptation in New York City as part of the British Airways sponsored UKwithNYC.

The screenplay, with introduction by Douglas Urbanski, was published in 1997 by ScreenPress Books.

A photo-diary of the film's production, containing photos by Jack English, was published in 1998 by ScreenPress Books.


Nil by Mouth received generally positive reviews, currently holding a 65% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[4] Roger Ebert awarded the film 3.5/4 stars, writing: "The film's portrait of street life in South London is unflinching and observant."[5]

The film grossed $266,130 from 18 theatres in North America.[2]

Nil by Mouth features the word "cunt" 82 times, more than any other film in history. It also features around 428 uses of the word "fuck".,[6] more than any film at the time until Summer of Sam beat it 2 years later. It still holds the record for the number of uses of "fuck" per minute in a dramatic film.

Awards and nominations

  • 1997 Cannes Film Festival:
  • 1997 Edinburgh International Film Festival:
    • Winner: Channel 4 Director's Award (Gary Oldman)
  • 1997 European Film Awards:
    • Nominee: Best Cinematographer (Ray Fortunato)
  • 1997 BAFTA Awards:
    • Winner: Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film (Luc Besson, Douglas Urbanski)
    • Winner: BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay (Gary Oldman)
    • Nominee: Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Ray Winstone)
    • Nominee: Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Kathy Burke)
  • 1998 British Independent Film Awards:
    • Winner: Best Performance by a British Actor in an Independent Film (Ray Winstone)
    • Winner: Best Performance by a British Actress in an Independent Film (Kathy Burke)
    • Winner: Most Promising Newcomer in any Category (Laila Morse)
    • Nominee: Best British Director of an Independent Film (Gary Oldman)
    • Nominee: Best British Independent Film
    • Nominee: Best Original Screenplay by a British Writer of a Produced Independent Film (Gary Oldman)
  • 1998 Empire Awards:
    • Winner: Best Debut (Gary Oldman)
  • 1997 Royal Variety Club of Great Britain
    • Winner: Best Film Actress (Kathy Burke)[8]
  • 1997: Golden Frog Award:
    • Nominee: Cinematography (Ron Fortunato)


  1. ^ (18)"NILS BY MOUTH".  
  2. ^ a b c "Nil By Mouth (1997)".  
  3. ^
  4. ^ Nil By Mouth at Rotten Tomatoes
  5. ^ Roger Ebert review
  6. ^ Swear word frequency
  7. ^ a b "Festival de Cannes: Nil by Mouth". Retrieved 23 September 2009. 
  8. ^ Kathy Burke winner of Royal Variety Club Great Britain: Best Film Actress

External links

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