Excellent performances and Jimmy McGovern's compelling script result in a film of rare sensitivity.
Its balancing act of tragedy and humor never falters, and even its melodramatic aspects can be attributed to the way Liam views his world.
...[based on] Joseph McKeown's novel about desperate times in 1930's Liverpool...
The film as a whole suggests that Catholicism (in those days in that society) came down more heavily upon children than some of them could bear, and that children thus diminished in self-esteem might grow up to seek it in unsavory places.
Director Stephen Frears and screenwriter Jimmy McGovern create some moments of sweet, simple hominess in this amber morality tale.