• Home Before Midnight



    Released by: Kino Lorber/Redemption Films
    Released on: June 17th, 2014.
    Director: Pete Walker
    Cast: James Aubrey, Alison Elliott, Mark Burns
    Year: 1979
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    The Movie:


    While Peter Walker is best known for his horror pictures, 1974’s Home Before Midnight doesn’t offer up the strong murder set pieces some of the director’s films gained notoriety for but like his best movies, it does deal in some rather taboo subject matter. When the movie begins, pretty Ginny Whilshire (Alison Elliott) is hitchhiking down a road with her friend Carol (Debbie Linden). A car stops and the man inside, Mike Beresford (James Aubrey) offers Ginny a ride, Carol having hopped into a truck earlier. Maybe she was hoping she might get picked up by a family or something a little safer than a single guy, but she gets in… and he makes a joke about rape.

    You’d expect that this would make the mood more than a little awkward but Ginny laughs it off and they soon fall fast in love. Mike’s a songwriter and soon he’s introducing his new girlfriend to the band he works with (fronted by Mick Jagger’s younger brother Chris!) and even having her meet up with his mom and dad (Leonard Kavanagh and Joan Pendleton). Things seem to get pretty serious between the two in no time at all but when they go sailing and Mike notices Ginny’s birthdate on her bracelet, he quickly realizes that his new girlfriend is fourteen years old. As an adult at twenty-eight, the fact that he and Ginny have been intimate means he’s now legally a rapist. He wants to end it then and there but they have legitimate feelings for one another and decide to keep their relationship afloat, that is until Ginny’s parents, parents (Mark Burns and Juliet Harmer), find out what’s going on and decide to press charges…

    Despite the fact that it’s a bit tough to buy Alison Elliott as a fourteen year old even when she is dressed that way and portrayed that way by her surroundings and costuming in the movie, Home Before Midnight does a pretty good job of exploring the complications posited by its narrative. At the same time, Elliott’s appearance does lend credence to Michael’s initial ignorance of her age, making the central plot device more believable. As such, that aspect of the production turns out to be a double edged sword for Walker but thankfully the performances from both Elliott and just as importantly Aubrey are committed and believable enough that most of the time their relationship and predicament seem grounded enough.

    The film never comes out in favor of Michael’s actions and it instead presents the controversy ‘as is’ while using exploitative tactics (nudity) to put the viewer in his situation, at least to a certain extent. It works. Ginny is portrayed early on as a sexual creature and the movie coaxes us to want her the way that Michael does. As the film moves towards its conclusion, the story becomes far less about young love in full bloom than it does a series of mistruths and betrayals. Everyone is quick to place all of the blame on Michael, but the audience knows that Ginny was very much aware of what she was doing and how she was approaching the situation. This causes us to question where the guilt really lies in all of this, if there’s even guilt to be piled up in the first place – the film offers no real easy answers in this department. By introducing subtle elements (Ginny’s father’s tendency to playfully swat his daughter and her playmates on their asses being one) in which other characters indulge in similar behavior we have to wonder if the resulting controversy that winds up surrounding Michael is warranted or not. There’s that whole adage about how those living in glass houses should not throw stones and it definitely applies to a lot of the supporting players in this picture, even if you’re left feeling that the script could and should have gotten deeper into exploring or even debating the morality at play here than it ever really does.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Home Before Midnight debuts on Blu-ray framed in its proper 1.66.1 widescreen aspect ratio in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. Transferred ‘from the original 35mm negative' the movie looks very nice in its high definition debut. There's very little print damage here to note, just a few white specks here and there, and there's no evidence of noise reduction or edge enhancement. The film's grain structure is left completely un-tinkered with while color reproduction and skin tones both look quite nice and natural. Black levels are solid and the movie's frequent darker scenes show decent shadow detail. This is a gritty looking picture but this transfer would seem very true to the movie's roots and it offers quite an impressive upgrade in detail, texture and color from the previous DVD release.

    The only audio option on the disc is an LPCM Mono track in the film's native English language. This isn't a particularly fancy track, it's an older single channel mix for a modestly budgeted picture but it gets the job done without any problems. The levels are nicely balanced, the dialogue is clean and clear and there aren't any problems with any obvious hiss or distortion. The music used throughout the movie also sounds quite good here, it has got noticeably more depth than it did on the previous DVD release.

    The main extra on the disc is an eleven minute interview with the director who talks about working with the different cast members on the film and the issues that arose when various critics took him to task for his choices. It’s an interesting interview as you don’t come away with the impression that he is really all that enamored with this particular entry in his filmography, but he defends it anyway in his own inimitable style.

    Rounding out the extra features are a trailer for the feature, trailers for a few other Pete Walker titles that Redemption/Kino have put out (all worth getting!), menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    Home Before Midnight lets Walker explore a world different than those he tapped into with his better known horror pictures while still delivering a picture that has his stamp all over it. The solid performances from the leads and the controversial subject matter keep it interesting and the Blu-ray presentation from Kino/Redemption offers up the nicely shot movie in very nice shape and with a pretty interesting interview as its lone core supplement.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!




















    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Paul L's Avatar
      Paul L -
      Nice review, Ian. I was glad to see this one hit Blu-ray. It's a good film. It's interesting to compare this one with the somewhat similar ALL THE RIGHT NOISES, with Tom Bell as an electrician who falls for a schoolgirl; the BFI released that film a few years back, as part of their Flipside strand.