Judge Gordon Sullivan is a sex machine to all the chicks.
The music business must seem very exciting…to a teenager.
One of the great moments in movie history is Matthew McConaughey's line in Dazed and Confused about high school girls: "I get older, they stay the same age." The same could be said of rock 'n' roll. It started out largely as a teen phenomenon, young people flush with post-WWII boom cash looking to spend it on something. Music helped fill the void, and lots of teen idols were born. Many of those idols went on to be healthy adults, but there were also those who kept their fixation on teens long after they'd entered into adulthood. Scratch the surface of any '70s rock band and you'll find at least a tale or two of barely legal groupies, and it doesn't take much more digging to find stories of underage fans trading sexual favors for access to their favorite rock stars. Pete Walker's Home Before Midnight gives us a peek into this world of rock star excess, but instead of a scathing indictment of excess, somehow being attracted to a 14 year old turns this rock stars life into a tragedy.
Mike Beresford (James Aubrey, ) travels the highways as a rock musician. While traveling he encounters Ginny, giving her a ride to London before the two end up on a date. Their relationship seems to be going well, until Mike discovers that Ginny is only 14, and her parents want to prosecute him for his involvement with their daughter.
Home Before Midnight reads today like the worst kind of self-justifying fantasy wish-fulfillment. I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that, if asked, just about everyone would agree that a 14 year old girl being involved with a man twice her age is something that should be condemned. We're not talking about some "she's 17, almost 18" wishy-washy nonsense, nor even a question of different ages of consent for different jurisdictions—Ginny is 14 and Mike is 28. The reason that Home Before Midnight fails is that we're meant somehow to believe that Mike, who is a worldly gentlemen and well traveled, somehow doesn't realize that Ginny is 14. It's wish fulfillment because Mike get's the best of both worlds: Ginny has all the poise and grace of an older woman (because she's played by an adult actress), but Mike still gets to be involved with a very underage young girl.
And somehow, the film tries to convince us that the relationship between Ginny and Mike is one of love and romance, one that can't (and shouldn't) be sundered by something as petty as a law. It also tries to convince us that it's a tragedy that Mike's life gets ruined by being with Ginny. The film's main problem is that it can't quite decide what it wants to be, and like Mike it wants to have it both ways. The film is obviously aiming for dramatic territory with all its talk of laws and courtroom drama, painting Mike's life as tragic. On the other hand, Home Before Midnight is clearly in exploitation territory. There's plenty of poor acting, gratuitous nudity, and random cameos (from Mick Jagger's brother, most famously). So, we're not meant to take the film seriously, and yet it's also 111 minutes of bouncing back and forth between "serious" drama and sleazier elements.
Whatever the merits of the film, though, Home Before Midnight gets a good Blu-ray release. The 1.66:1/1080p AVC-encoded transfer is sourced from a surprisingly clean print, and the most impressive aspect of the transfer is its beautiful grain structure. There's a strong film-like quality to the image, and its rich colors really shine through. Black levels are also consistent and fairly deep as well, with no significant compression artifacts to note. The film's LPCM 2.0 stereo track does a fine job with the dialogue and the film's vintage music. There's not a lot of dynamic range or presence, but that's a source limitation rather than a problem with this track.
The extras start with an 11 minute interview with Walker, who talks with surprising candor about the film. We also get a set of trailers for Walker's films, including this one.
Though too long by at least 20 minutes for standard exploitation fare, Home Before Midnight offers plenty of pleasures to those willing to ignore its nonsensical plot. There's certainly heaps of sleaze to be found in the film, from the icky relationship to lots of gratuitous nudity. The film also offers plenty of cheese for fans of '70s era cinema to enjoy. In addition to the cameos by the likes of Chris Jagger, the film offers plenty of glam-like rock on the soundtrack, and 35 years later it all sounds a goofy. For viewers just looking for a bit of "bad," Home Before Midnight delivers.
Home Before Midnight is one of the more outré offerings by British auteur Pete Walker. Tackling an underage romance in the most exploitative way, the film fails by either taking itself too seriously, or not seriously enough. Fans of the film can enjoy this Blu-ray with confidence, though, as the audiovisual presentation is impressive.
Sleazy, but not guilty.
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