Track 29

Flawed but fascinating, Nicolas Roeg's direction of an original script by Dennis Potter (Pennies From Heaven, The Singing Detective) yields a provocative and multilayered depiction of American infantilism. In a North Carolina town Theresa Russell plays a bored, alcoholic, and frustrated housewife married to a doctor (Christopher Lloyd) who prefers playing with his model railroad to dallying with her. Into the picture comes an enigmatic young English stranger (Gary Oldman)—possibly the long-lost son forcibly taken from her at childbirth who, like much else in the film, may or may not be real. Roeg and Potter's grasp of Americana may be flawed in certain details, but the overall drift of their parable carries an undeniable charge. Russell's southern accent works only intermittently, and it's a pity to see actors as interesting as Sandra Bernhard and Seymour Cassel wasted (Colleen Camp fares somewhat better as Russell's best friend). But Roeg's talent as a stylist, purveyor of the bizarre and kinky, and poet of disturbed mental states (as experienced from within) keeps this alive and humming. This is definitely worth a visit (1988).

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