In recent years, director Terence Davies has become best known for such literary adaptations as “The House of Mirth” (2000) and “The Deep Blue Sea” (2011). But he originally made his name with a series of autobiographical films — three shorts and two features. “The Long Day Closes” (1992) is the last (and arguably the best) of these.
Davies's movies are almost always depressing, but are elevated by their extraordinary style, both auditory and visual. Much of “The Long Day Closes” puts us sharply into a child's-eye view of the world, with an eerie sensation of being there. (His style is reminiscent of the films of Wong Kar-wai, who was emerging at just the same time.) “The Long Day Closes” is easier to bear because it covers what Davies calls “the happiest time of my life” — starting with the death of his brutal, abusive father and ending with puberty and a whole new set of miseries, mostly having to do with his secret homosexuality.
This is the kind of film that requires the best possible presentation: much of it is very darkly lit, and the tones are desaturated into a dirt-brown. Criterion has come through with flying (i.e., muted) colors.
In addition to a surprisingly jolly commentary track with Davies and director of photography Michael Coulter, we get a 1992 episode of “The South Bank Show,” hosted (as always) by Melvyn Bragg, who thankfully is less fatuous and fawning than usual. Much of its 47 minutes is Bragg interviewing Davies, interspersed with excerpts from his other works and on-set footage from “The Long Day Closes.” There is also a recent interview with executive producer Colin MacCabe.
The Long Day Closes (Criterion Collection, Blu-ray/DVD combo, $39.95)
ANDY KLEIN is the film critic for Marquee. He can also be heard on "FilmWeek" on KPCC-FM (89.3).