Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Essential Cinema - 12

Warm Nights On A Slow Moving Train

Wendy Hughes
Colin Friels
Norman Kaye
John Clayton
Rod Zuanic
Lewis Fitz-Gerald
Steve J. Spears
Grant Tilly
Peter Whitford

Bob Ellis

Bob Ellis
Denny Lawrence

Yuri Sokol

An Australian art teacher at a catholic girls school moonlights as a prostitute on a regular cross country train trip.

The secret lives of others. The things we have to do in order to make ends meet and the things we do for emotional love as well as physical love. The Woman (as she is known in the film, her name is never mentioned) has many motivations in this film, some monetary, some compassionate, some adventurous. The backdrop of a train rushing through the countryside with a mix of souls thrown together gives the sense of immediacy and living for the moment. Once they exit the train, all is forgotten and it is back to the reality of the world. However, in this film, the Woman eventually gives into temptation in hopes of finding the better life that has eluded her, against her better judgment.

Wendy Hughes plays the Woman and she is pretty captivating in the role. She lends a sense of pathos and subtle pain to the woman that makes the same trip over and over, touching on the lives of others for a brief moment in time. The viewer gets the sense that she doesn't enjoy what she is doing, but sacrifices have to be made in life. Her changing hairstyles are interesting and she becomes a different woman each time she rides the rails.

It is interesting how each encounter is a small relationship that is crafted by the Woman. She is almost more of a therapist to these men than a simple sex object. But the breakup at the end is usually painful because they don't want to let her go. The Woman knows how to spot and manipulate troubled men. Men in need of something more than sex. They have their momentary sexual thrill and the chance to have someone really listen to their problems and are then cast off by the Woman before any real emotional bond can develop.

Because of this, there is an air of tension and sadness in the main character since she knows that each tryst will end with rejection and emotional pain. After the courtship in the club car, there is always the whispered phrase in the passageway "I do this for money". Later, in the Woman's private cabin, when it is all over, the Woman's face goes blank as she utters the words, "You have to go." Despite all the trappings of intimacy, it is only a business.

A low budget film that is an intimate and soul searching drama. Well acted and simple in style. It relies on the screenplay and emotions of the characters to move the story forward. Basic film making as it should be. This is a human story that the viewer can relate to. There are some unpredictable moments at the end and you won't see them coming or know the whole story until the film is over. Overall an enjoyable film.