Track 29

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Track 29
Film poster
Directed byNicolas Roeg
Written byDennis Potter
Produced byRick McCallum
CinematographyAlex Thomson
Edited byTony Lawson
Music byStanley Myers
Distributed byIsland Pictures
Cannon Films
Release dates
5 August 1988 (UK)
9 September 1988 (US)
Running time
91 min.
CountriesUnited Kingdom
United States
Budget$5 million
Box office$429,028 (US)[1]

Track 29 is a 1988 psychological drama film directed by Nicolas Roeg and starring Theresa Russell, Gary Oldman, Colleen Camp, Sandra Bernhard, Seymour Cassel, and Christopher Lloyd. It was produced by George Harrison's HandMade Films with Rick McCallum. The film was nominated for and won a few awards at regional film festivals.[2] The writer, Dennis Potter, adapted his earlier television play, Schmoedipus (1974), changing the setting from London to the United States.[3] It was filmed in Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina


In rural Wilmington, North Carolina, Linda Henry lives a solitary and unfulfilled life with her husband, Henry Henry, a doctor who spends the majority of his free time tinkering with model trains. At his clinic, Henry carries on an affair with a nurse, Ms. Stein, unbeknownst to Linda. While dining at a cafe with her friend Arlanda, Linda encounters Martin, a British hitchhiker who was born in North Carolina but raised in England; he has arrived in the United States in search of his birthmother.

Later that night, Linda is frightened to see Martin standing outside her home. He confronts her the following day while she swims in her swimming pool, and suggests he is the biological son she gave up for adoption while a teenager. She initially disbelieves him, but he provides intimate details about the woman who raised him, who was in fact the British housekeeper of Linda's family. Martin says that she accompanied him back to England with him shortly after his birth. Martin begins to exhibit increasingly childlike behavior toward Linda, expressing sadness over his lack of having his biological mother in his life. Linda responds in a maternal manner.

Linda and Martin go out for a dinner together at a local bar, but the waiter observes Linda alone at the table, talking to herself and crying. Meanwhile, Linda believes herself to be engaging with Martin, who is seemingly a figment of her imagination. She recounts to Martin his conception, which occurred during a rape Linda suffered while attending a local carnival. The two return home as Linda continues to get progressively drunk, and Martin's behavior vacillates between being increasingly childlike and Oedipal in nature. Meanwhile, Henry and Nurse Stein attend a local convention for model train enthusiasts. Afterward, Henry tells Nurse Stein he wants her to join him when he accepts a new job out of state.

At home, Linda has a vision of a semi-truck crashing through her bedroom while Martin destroys Henry's elaborate model train set. He subsequently sings and plays Linda a song on the piano that moves Linda to tears. After Martin leaves, Linda awakens in the living room in the middle of the night, and hysterically calls Arlanda for help. Linda tells Arlanda she let the "boy they met in the diner" into her home, but Arlanda seems clueless as to what she is referring to. Linda proceeds to recount the story of her rape, pregnancy, and subsequent placing of her newborn for adoption.

Henry returns to find Arlanda and Linda at the house. When Arlanda goes to get Linda something to drink, Henry begins to slap Linda, but is stopped when an enraged Arlanda re-enters the room. Linda calmly escorts Arlanda out of the house, assuring her everything is fine. Linda, in her dissociated state, envisions a naked Martin stabbing Henry to death upstairs amongst his train set. The next morning, Linda fashions herself in an elegant dress and departs the house, hearing the voice of Henry repeatedly calling her name. She ignores it, and drives away. Inside the house, a pool of blood—ostensibly that of the murdered Henry—has soaked through the upstairs floor, and drips from the living room ceiling.


Critical reception[edit]

Janet Maslin of The New York Times thought the film missed the mark:

Though the screenwriter and the director clearly share certain affinities, their collective efforts on Track 29 ... amount to overkill, particularly since the direction is so laden with contempt for the characters... Though Mr. Roeg's films can often be perverse (and startlingly, bracingly so), they are rarely this silly. Nor are they this maddening, since Track 29 does contain the seeds of something tantalizing. Linda's attempt to come to terms with her past through a wildly unpredictable, even dangerous fantasy has the stamp of Mr. Potter's better material, but it has been made too mindless to have any impact. The real urgency of Mr. Oldman's performance, and the wicked blandness of Mr. Lloyd's, seem regrettably wasted, under the circumstances.[4]

However, Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times rated it 3 stars out of his 4 star rating system and found the film well done but painful:

Somebody asked me if I liked this movie, and I had to answer that I did not, but then I realized once again what an inadequate word "like" is. The reason I didn't like "Track 29" is that the film is unlikable - perhaps deliberately so. But that doesn't make it a bad film, and it probably makes it a more interesting one. Like many of the strange, convoluted works of Nicolas Roeg (Don't Look Now, Bad Timing, Eureka, Insignificance), it is bad-tempered, kinky and misogynistic. But not every film is required to massage us with pleasure. Some are allowed to be abrasive and frustrating, to make us think.[5]


  1. ^ Track 29 at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ Track 29 (1988) – Awards
  3. ^ Track 29 (1988) – Plot Summary
  4. ^ Maslin, Janet (1988-09-09). "Movie Review - Track 29 - Reviews/Film; Curious Scenes From a Southern Marriage -". Retrieved 2011-04-28.
  5. ^ "Track 29 :: :: Reviews". Retrieved 2011-04-28.

External links[edit]