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Blu-ray: Track 29 | reviews, news & interviews

Blu-ray: Track 29

Blu-ray: Track 29

The Dennis Potter-Nicolas Roeg collaboration that tapped Gary Oldman's early genius

Mixed-up relationship: Gary Oldman, Theresa Russell

A chronic recycler, Dennis Potter fashioned five feature films from his earlier TV dramas and another from one of his novels. The best of them are 1985’s Dreamchild (from the BBC's Alice, 1965) and Track 29 (1987), which he adapted from the BBC's Schmoedipus (1974). The latter was one of Potter’s "visitation" plays, in which frustrated or guilty protagonists conjur into existence an angel – or the devil, in the case of Brimstone and Treacle (banned in 1976, remade in 1982) – to commit an act of liberating violence.

As in Schmoedipus (which starred Anna Cropper and an inspired Tim Curry), the return of the repressed is the governing idea of Track 29. Potter removed the setting from English suburbia to an American Deep South backwater, where unhappily married housewife Linda (Theresa Russell) imagines spending the day with the son, Martin (Gary Oldman), she hasn’t seen since he was plucked from her womb. The baby resulted from the schoolgirl Linda's rape by a fairground worker (Oldman, again). Track 29 has a highly topical message: rape victims who are impregnated shouldn’t be forced to go to term.

Track 29 - coverOldman was virtuosic in his early films and his Martin is something to behold: a loony so sick of adulthood that he’s intent on regressing to the point where – sulking, pouting, and blowing raspberries – he can make a career of childhood. Linda’s unresolved Oedipus complex means she also fantasises Martin seducing her and revenging her on her neglectful doctor husband (Christopher Lloyd), whose model railroad fixation and S&M-lite affair with his nurse (Sandra Bernhard) emphasise the regression theme.

Potter found a cinematic soul mate in Nicolas Roeg, a director similarly invested in showing how memories and daydreams intrude on consciousness. Roeg also politicised the film’s splashy set piece, a railroad convention steeped in Southern conservatism. But Track 29 is harsher, brasher, and sexier than Schmoedipus – and modern viewers may find their jaws dropping at the extent to which Roeg objectified Russell, who was then his wife and muse.

The disc’s extras include a 1994 National Film Theatre interview with Roeg and new interviews with the film’s editor Tony Lawson, sound mixer David Stephenson, and actress Colleen Camp, who played Linda’s best friend. A probing interview with Russell might have been fascinating, but she was presumably unavailable.

Modern viewers may find their jaws dropping at the extent to which Roeg objectified his wife Theresa Russell


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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