WARM NIGHTS ON A SLOW MOVING TRAIN: DVD
Monday to Friday she (Wendy Hughes) teaches art at a Catholic school, but come the weekend and she rides the overnight intercity express, turning tricks - each trip in a different guise, but always the same rules: the men must leave her cabin by 3am. And no sweet-talk next morning. She is saving the extra money for medical bills for her wheel chair-bound, morphine addicted ex-athlete brother Brian (Lewis Fitz-Gerald). But then she meets and falls for a man (Colin Friels) who is different: strong, willful and charming. And he, too, has a secret agenda. And it includes assassination, for money that would settle all her and her brother's needs.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The reader will forgive a personal aside, which can also be taken as a declaration of interest: it was this writer who collected the Best Actress Award at the 1988 Rio de Janeiro Film Festival for Wendy Hughes' performance - only because I was the only Australian there. But it does underline what a marvellous performance Wendy delivers as the young woman who teaches art at a Catholic school during the week, while playing hooker on the intercity (Melbourne-Sydney) night train at the weekends.
The irony is, as we discover from the Bob Ellis interview/rant in the extras menu, that Bob didn't want Wendy at all. She was a) too old, b) explained after signing on that she refused to take her clothes off "in a role in which she plays a hooker", says Bob with quiet sarcasm.
Hughes is ably assisted by a taut performance from Colin Friels as the last man in her chain of adventures, whose impact is greater than she wants. All the supports are terrific, and the only flaw in the film is a hurried moment when the media storm into her cabin after she calls fro help. It's a minor mis-judgement and never threatens the film's integrity.
The story is clearly told, and the emotional, psychological backdrop is handled with a light touch, but it provides grounding for the thriller elements. Engaging and impressively written and directed by Bob Ellis, the film has layers and complexities beneath its surface tensions. Like the nice line from the Steward (Peter Whitford). "God created the world and then died ..but people think he's still there."
The 2007 Bob Ellis interview - a 19 minute monologue - is riveting and entertaining, even though he regrets the final cut and deplores the process that led to it. He mentions Belle de Jour, a film that occurs to us as we watch Warm Nights, but not more than a character reference. But he also refers to the film as a French idea - originally, because it wasn't going to slip into political thriller mode. He talks about the filmmaking experience as horrible and slags the crew. It's the most raw and honest and reckless piece of filmmaking memoir I've ever seen.
Published August 2, 2007
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WARM NIGHTS ON A SLOW MOVING TRAIN: DVD (M)
CAST: Wendy Hughes, Colin Friels, Norman Kaye, John Clayton, Rod Zuanic, Lewis Fitz-Gerald, Steve J. Spears, Grant Tilly, Peter Whitford, Peter Sullivan, Chris Haywood,
PRODUCER: Ross Dimsey, Patrick Juillet
DIRECTOR: Bob Ellis
SCRIPT: Bob Ellis, Denny Lawrence
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Yuri Sokol
EDITOR: Tim Lewis
MUSIC: Peter Sullivan
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Tracy Watt
RUNNING TIME: 86 minutes
PRESENTATION: 1.78:1; DD 2.0
SPECIAL FEATURES: Journey With Wendy Hughes (2007); Bob Ellis on catastrophe that became failure (2007); trailer
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Umbrella
DVD RELEASE: July 5, 2007