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Track 29

In this strange black comedy, one of Dennis Potter’s psychodramas receives the Roeg treatment. The result is a bizarre, playful piece of cinematic legerdemain in which the writer’s wit and imagination are refracted through the distorting lens of the director’s camera eye. The setting is a small town in North Carolina, where a husband and wife pursue their very different obsessions. Linda (Theresa Russell) is desperate for a child but her husband Henry (Christopher Lloyd) is more interested in playing with his model railway. Linda’s frustration leads her to dwell on a traumatic experience from the past, when she was forced to have her illegitimate child adopted. Now she finds her house invaded by a strange young man, Martin (Gary Oldman), who claims to be her lost son.

Potter’s screenplay suggests that Linda conjures up the figure of Martin as a means of exorcising her feelings of guilt. In a Roeg film, however, nothing is ever quite as it seems, and the director takes every opportunity to complicate and undermine our understanding of the characters by playing games with fantasy and reality. Track 29 perhaps promises more than it delivers from a Roeg-Potter collaboration, but it is often very funny and always deceptively audacious.

U.K., 1987.
90 mins.

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