Skip to main content


Australia, 1989 (MIFF 1990)

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)

See also...

Miles of Music

Part of the series POP MOVIE. MILES OF MUSIC is a rock tour with a difference. Teenage Rockshow takes live rock music to outback towns, high schools and aboriginal settlements. This film shows the ... More »


... ... Ray Argall's debut feature Return Home (1990 MFF) touched a nerve with its insightful depiction of working class survivors in an ail-too-believable contemporary Australia. Argall's new Film ... More »

Worse Than Christmas

What's worse than Christmas? Easter, that's what, when Angela's relationship with Dan is thrashing out its death throes, amidst the flying bullets of verbal abuse and the occasional hurtled chocolate ... More »

An Ordinary Woman

In the process of (representing an ordinary woman's life, this film explores questions of identity, representation and truth. In paying homage to the small moment, the snapshot, the ordinary; the ... More »

Raymond's Mission

In this delightful clay animation, Raymond is selected by the Intergalactic Peace Council to journey to Earth and seek out the leaders of the people. He arrives in New York City, the date is 1958 ... More »


Art, life, myth and landscape are skillfully blended in this fine film portrait of Aboriginal artist Jimmy Pike. Using a journey as narrative device and metaphor, the film takes us into the West ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director