On the good side, Oldman demonstrates real talent as a director, especially for a first-timer; he throws off great flashes of style throughout. The movie's visual highlight may be the fun the camera has with the stark, inhuman geometry of the high-rise housing projects through which Billy runs on his way to buy drugs.
All of the film's performances are memorable. Winstone is so convincing as the bullish Raymond that he's genuinely scary to watch, particularly when his character drinks Smirnoff straight from the bottle or beats the hell out of friends and lovers. But a little of him goes a long way. The film might have been more successful -- evoking, for instance, some empathy for these losers' plights -- if the more levelheaded and charismatic Mark, who drops out about midway through the movie, had been given as much screen time as Ray. As it stands it's hard not to side with the women here and dismiss the guys as a bunch of dangerous, drunken creeps who deserve their lot.
Nil By Mouth.
Directed and written by Gary Oldman. Starring Ray Winstone, Kathy Burke, Charlie Creed-Miles, Laila Morse, and Jamie Forman.