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A young woman leaves the home of her lonely widower father
A young woman of twenty-five has met a young man, despite the overbearingly protective father, played by McGoohan. He has never got past the death of her mother 25 years before. He has become controlling of his daughters life, without offering her any interest other than looking after him. However he loves her deeply and when he realises she is desperate to leave he gives his consent. She promises to return to visit him. She joins a "spiritual" commune. The father has a religious mania and discovering her location attempts to force her away. Due to his age he is humiliatingly unable to do so and returns home. After some happy times, the woman is assaulted by the leader and flees the commune. Her boyfriend is somewhat inept and is unable to protect her. Eventually she finds succour on a sheep farm where she is again happy. However she then realises she is pregnant as a result of her assault. She decides to return to visit her father, as she had promised. She is shocked to find the previously fastidious man living in squalor. She gets him back on his feet again. She is intending to return to the sheep farm. However he discovers her secret. At the commune the leader is savagely murdered. There are a number of suspects.
My prime interest in the film was McGoohan. He gives a typically tight-mouthed performance. His transition from obsessive tidiness to derelict squalor is shocking and his resurrection upon the return of his beloved daughter is uplifting. However his ultimate explosion of anger is terrible and his mental collapse into speechless bewilderment at what he has done is just as powerful. He plays the character with a physical tightness that reflects the mental straitjacket this man is living in. As is also often the case, McGoohan struggles to maintain an unfamiliar accent. His own accent is so 'not-of-any-place' that I am always amazed he is not allowed to just let it find it's own place! As with many Mcgoohan films you sense a great story struggling to get out through the filming process. The script is okay but there is as much reliance on McGoohan and Emma Piper communicating through tortured facial expression as there is on dialogue. You cannot help but feel there was time and a need for more exploration of their feeling towards one another and the background to their isolation. The boyfriend is nicely executed as a big Aussie 'Jock' who is physically strong but mentally weak. The Commune now looks a bit 'Seventies' but the cynicism of the power balance between leaders and followers is nicely observed. Emma Piper, who is the main character, performs with an awkward grace that complements the innocent character she portrays.
Visually the fertile desolation of sheep country in New Zealand adds to the isolationism engendered by the characters. The scenes are well put together and the film is generally sound. The reasons for McGoohans twenty-five year isolation are never explored. He appears to be well known in the neighbourhood but has no job or obvious means of support.
If you are a McGoohan fan this is another step in one man's journey and you will enjoy the trip, as much for what he suggests as what he does. Any other film buff might find it plods a bit, but, hey relax! There are a lot worse films you could sit through than this!
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