Director: Ray Argall
NOEL, IN HIS LATE-THIRTIES, is a successful insurance broker in Melbourne who returns to the Adelaide suburbs of his childhood one summer; to stay with his brother, Steve, his wife Judy and their children. Steve runs a garage in a shopping centre that is going backwards financially in the age of American franchises and a dearth of customers. Both he and the ideals he stands for are on borrowed time. In Steve's apprentice, Gary, Noel sees the headstrong youth he was twenty years ago...
Ray Argall's work as cinematographer should be well known to Melbourne audiences -- he has shot three features for lan Pringle (Plains Of Heaven, Wrong World and last year's Prisoner Of St Petersburg), Mary Callaghans Tenderhooks and Brian Mckenzie's With Love To The Person Next To Me, in most cases also serving as editor
ln the early-mid 80s Argall made a string of innovative and inspired music-videos for Australian and international bands, and Pop Movie, a unique series on rock music and the music industry.
This breadth of experience has given Argall a sure grasp of technique, and
Return Home, his first feature as a director-writer is a remarkably mature debut that rises above its modest intentions (and budget) to stand as possibly the most significant, fully rounded film to emerge from the thriving Melbourne independent scene in a decade or more.
In terms of the Australian film industry; few films come close to its unpretentious, unaffected depiction of working-class Australians. In this regard, Argall's subtle script is well served by his relatively inexperienced cast, whose immersion in the project E obvious.
In this resolutely low-key manner, Return Home finally delivers a significant emotional punch that lingers long after the impressions of many more 'showy' films have evaporated.
Ultimately this is a film about values; and not just the family values that have preoccupied so much recent American cinema. Like Mike Leigh's High Hopes, it reminds as that there are still some things worth standing by returning to. - (TB)