Released by: Image Entertainment
Released on: February 21, 2012.
Director: Nicolas Roeg
Cast: Gary Oldman, Christopher Lloyd
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Directed by Nicolas Roeg for George Harrison’s Handmade Films in 1987, Track 29 tells the story of a woman named Linda Henry (Theresa Russell) who is stuck in what she considers a fairly loveless marriage to a surgeon named Henry (Christopher Lloyd). They never have sex, they’ve never been able to have children, and given that Henry seems more interested in his professional life and his model train set than his social life or his lovely wife, Linda’s starting to wonder what the point of it all is. Of course, Henry’s having an affair with a much younger nurse named Ms. Stein (Sandra Bernhard), so Linda’s doubts about her relationship are completely understandable.
One fine day, Linda’s at a diner having a meal when she runs into a young man named Martin (Gary Oldman) who claims to be the son that she gave up for adoption, the result of an unwanted teenage pregnancy some years ago when she was raped at the age of fifteen. Without much else going on in her life, Linda is keen to get to know this odd young man. They start spending time together, a lot of time, really, and are soon quite close. Not so surprisingly, Martin very quickly grows to resent Henry, and the more he gets to know him the harder he finds it to conceal his increasing hatred for him. Linda, not sure what to do about all of this, soon finds she’s worrying more for Henry’s safety than she would have thought possible and she winds up stuck between the two very different men in her life.
Written by Dennis Potter, a prolific writer for television with only a handful of film screenplays to his credit (one of which is the excellent Gorky Park), Track 29 is a strange film filled with Freudian psychology and odd sexual innuendo between Oldman and Roeg’s then wife Russell. Both actors manage to pull it off, with Oldman’s rather aloof portrayal of a conflicted young man stealing the show but with Russell’s more restrained middle aged mother doing just fine in her own regard. Lloyd’s role is more of a supporting one, though a very important one, and he too does quite well with the sometimes challenging material given him in this film. When a film is as reliant on the performances as this one is, it’s obviously important that the cast do their best you definitely walk away with this one with the impression that they absolutely did.
Like a lot of Roeg’s work, the visuals are very impressive, be it a shot of ‘mother and son’ driving together and experiencing their new found freedom or a close up of the unusually distracted misguided husband tittering away on his toy train set. Alex Thompson’s cinematography does a great job of capturing the mood and the drama set forth by Potter’s script, which shares some interesting similarities to Roeg’s earlier The Man Who Fell To Earth, at least when you consider the mysterious origins of Bowie’s character and Oldman’s character in the respective films.
Those looking for a realistic take on Freudian theories will be left wanting, but those familiar with Roeg’s penchant for dreamlike storytelling and for blending fantasy with reality and letting the audience decide for themselves which is which should certainly be quite taken with the results here. Track 29 doesn’t compete on the same level as Walkabout or even Bad Timing but like so many of the director’s pictures it is very well made, thought provoking, beautiful to look at and very well acted. As surreal and bizarre as it can get, it’s never less than interesting and through provoking.
Track 29 looks decent enough in this 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer from Image. The film is a gritty and grainy looking affair and some mild print damage can be spotted here and there but there aren’t any compression issues (the lack of extras probably helps that) nor are there any edge enhancement issues to note. Some shots are crisper than others and some shots are a little soft but overall the movie looks good on DVD.
The only audio option on the disc is an English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track, with removable closed captions provided in English only. The audio is basically on par with the video, it’s not going to blow your mind but it’s pretty good, the dialogue is easy enough to understand and the levels are balanced right.
Outside of a static menu and chapter selection, there are no extras on this disc at all.
The Final Word:
Track 29 isn’t a perfect film but it’s an interesting one and considering the pedigree of those involved with it, yeah, it’s definitely worth seeing. Image could have done more with the disc than they have, there isn’t even a trailer here, but Oldman fans and Roeg devotees will enjoy this one, and rightly so.