Tuesday, February 7, 2012

44. TRACK 29 (1987)

Some people consider this to be Nicolas Roeg's last great movie; I find its immediate predecessor CASTAWAY (1986) worthier of that title, but even Roeg's Roald Dahl adaptation THE WITCHES (1990) has aged better than this once-promising collaboration with Dennis Potter, the enfant terrible of the British teleplay (THE SINGING DETECTIVE, BRIMSTONE AND TREACLE). It's not a bad film, but rather an abrasive one due to its preference for caricature over character; the cast tend to repulse us before they do anything to repulse us -- yet it's a cold-bloodedly interesting film, more fun to analyze than to watch.

Based on Potter's 1974 PLAY FOR TODAY production SCHMOEDIPUS, which starred Tim Curry as an invasive stranger who introduces himself to a lonely, still-young housewife as the son she once gave up for adoption, Roeg's film tells the same story -- transplanted to Wilmington, North Carolina, home of the Cape Fear River -- with Gary Oldman (fresh from playing Sid Vicious and Joe Orton) and Theresa Russell, who lives in a veritable dollhouse stocked with collectible dolls while her doctor husband (Christopher Lloyd) loses himself in an upstairs model railroad haven. He's actually a figment of her imagination, where her yearnings for a child have become confused with her desire to have her husband's train return to her tunnel.

My fuller thoughts on TRACK 29 will appear in the April 2012 issue of SIGHT & SOUND.

Viewed on Image Entertainment DVD, which streets on February 21, 2012. 

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