Ray & Liz sees artist Richard Billingham return to the subject of his extraordinary early photographs: his family. Three inter-linking episodes unfold thematically rather than chronologically, laced with unsettling humor.
Ray is about addiction and control, 1990. Alcohol makes Ray a prisoner in his own bedroom. Sid visits daily to deliver home-brewed beer. Liz arrives periodically, for money. Sid and Liz battle for control of Ray: Sid with alcohol and Liz with the lure of being reunited.
Lol, 1980, is about vulnerability and punishment. Richard’s uncle Lol is framed by his nephew Phil. Liz, with Phil’s help, beats Lol with one of her new shoes and kicks him into the street. Richard, aged 10, reveals to his mother that Phil’s deception was recorded on an audio-tape. Liz sends the children to bed and deletes the tape.
Moonshine is about neglect, 1985. Jason, now 10, is left to his own devices. One night he sleeps in a cold shed, he’s found, stiff and frozen in the morning. At school, Jason’s headmaster states that he is to be taken to live with foster parents that day. Jason seems fine with this. When Ray and Liz are told, Liz cries a little, but quickly forgets…