Monday, 25 July 2011

Private Road.

BFI Flipside DVD.
Swinging London is well and truly over in Barney Platt-Mills second feature film Private Road (1971). In his brilliant first feature Bronco Bullfrog (1969) he dealt with an East End of London working class community and the dead-end lives of British teenagers in 1969. In this his latest release on the BFI Flipside series he explores the lives’ of a group of confused middle class post hippies.

Ann Halpern is from a middle class suburban family residing in Esher. Through her fathers connections she gets a job as a secretary working for a publishing company in London where she meets a promising young writer called Peter Morrissey. The pair soon get into a relationship and move in to a flat together much to the displeasure of her parents. Following a confrontation between Ann’s father and Peter the couple decide to decamp to a remote, but beautiful coastal cottage so that Peter can concentrate on his writing. Anne soon tires of rural living and they both move back to London with an added complication: Ann is expecting a child! A domesticated life beckons and Peter writing is going nowhere, so he is forced to get a job in an advertising agency that he hates. He seeks the advice of an ex heroin-addicted friend Stephan about the future direction of his life!

Susan Penhaligon.

As with Platt-Mills previous work he gets the best from his cast whose performances are very naturally and unforced, a style of direction that is almost documentary in its approach. Filmed totally on location it enjoys a very interesting cast. Peter Morrissey is played by Bruce Robinson who wrote and directed the British cult classic Withnail and I (1986) a film set in London during 1969 which is alleged to replicate Robinsons experiences as a chronic alcoholic and resting actor living in squalor in London’s Camden Town. Susan Penhaligon who plays Ann Halpern is best known for her television roles, for example Bouquet of Barbed Wire in the seventies. Michael Feast, who wrote the music for the film, portrays Stephen. A quiet film that say’s a lot.

Robinson and Michael Feast.

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