Stephen Frears | 1982 | ★★★★
The mentally retarded only son of a working class northern couple lives a life of relative normality, holding down a job as a cleaner, whilst also finding immense pleasure in the company of his father’s pigeons. However, when both of his parents die in quick succession, he finds himself committed to a hellish mental institution, of a kind at which even Charles Dickens would wince, transforming his life immediately and immeasurably. Driven by a remarkable central performance, Walter – first shown on Channel 4's inaugural night – is as gruesome as any horror film. And yet, the humanity with which writer David Cook, director Frears, and star Ian McKellen stuff it makes it, simultaneously, every bit as affecting as the tenderest romance.