Return Home (1990)

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Released 17-Mar-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-SBS Movie Show-Broadcast Edit/ Interview With Ray Argall
Short Film-"Julie Julie" And "Dogfood"
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1990
Running Time 83:33 (Case: 87)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Ray Argall
Musical Films
Madman Entertainment
Starring Dennis Coard
Frankie J. Holden
Ben Mendelsohn
Mickey Camilleri
Rachel Rains
Gypsy Lukewood
Ryan Rawlings
Paul Nestor
Alan Fletcher
Adrian Shirley
Michael Coard
Michael Evans
John Crouch
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.75:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.75:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

   Return Home is the first feature film written and directed by renowned Australian cinematographer Ray Argall. The film has autobiographical elements in the screenplay, in particular Argall paying homage to the time he spent in suburban Adelaide during his youth.

   Noel McKenzie (Dennis Coard) lives and works in Melbourne. He has an extremely successful career as an insurance broker and seems to have the world at his feet. Although he has all the spoils of his position, his recent divorce has shifted certain priorities in his life. Noel is drawn back to the Adelaide beachside suburb of his youth and in particular to his brother, Steve (Frankie J. Holden) and his family.

   Steve and his wife, Jude (Micki Camilleri), run the long owned family business, an independent petrol station that has been in the family since the boys were very young. Apart from selling petrol the old fashioned way, they also do mechanical repairs. Steve and Jude work hard and long hours to simply keep their heads above water, while also finding time for their two young children.

   Gary (Ben Mendelsohn ) is Steve's young apprentice, who is trying to juggle his rocky relationship with girlfriend, Wendy (Rachel Rains) and the long hours at the station.

   Noel takes leave from his job in Melbourne and returns to the place that holds so many happy memories. He soon realises that things have changed since his departure all those years ago. The business is on the edge of collapse due to change and progress. A large shopping centre has taken business away from the area, as well their inability to compete with the modern, self service petrol stations, which have the support of the huge multinationals.

  In the short time he spends with Steve and Jude, Noel has time to take stock of his own life. He makes a friend of Gary and is very popular with his niece and nephew. He is also clearly affected by the struggle and pressures he witnesses in his brother's life.

   When work commitments finally call Noel back to Melbourne, Steve and Jude wonder just when they will see Noel again.

   Return Home is one of the most unpretentious films you are ever likely to see and yet it is extremely effective in observing the day to day struggle of a working class family. The film perfectly captures a summer in suburbia, the tree lined streets, the fair, the beach and the pier, and the enjoyment and security these cultural icons bring, all so close to becoming a paradise lost.

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Transfer Quality


   The video transfer for Return Home is a little disappointing overall.

   The film is presented on this DVD in an aspect ratio of 1.75:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. I believe if this is not the exactly correct aspect ratio that it is indeed very close to it.

   The transfer is not particularly sharp, although it is clear. Many scenes displayed a certain softness that I found a little annoying at times. The fact that the film was shot on 16mm film and then blown up to 35mm later I don't believe contributes to the problem. I have seen Return Home in a cinema twice over the years and I don't recall any significant softness issues with this film. Blacks varied in their intensity and shadows were often a little murky.

   There is very little use of vibrant colour throughout the film, so colours were quite drab and a little washed out. Occasionally we get some splashes of bold and vivid colour, but the film's production design has these colours well controlled. The subdued palette suits the mood of the film very well and helps generally in giving the film the look of reality.

   There were no MPEG artefacts. Aliasing was not a problem and edge enhancement, though noticeable at times, was not problematic. Film artefacts were occasionally present, but again, weren't particularly an annoyance.

   Unfortunately there are no subtitles available on this DVD.

   This is a single sided, dual layer disc, with the layer change occurring at 76:29. This change is poorly placed and is quite disruptive.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


   The audio transfer is appropriately subtle and is of excellent quality.

   There are two audio tracks available on this DVD; English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s) and English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s).

   I found no problems at all with dialogue quality - this was always clear and easily understood. Audio sync was also excellent.

   There is no original musical score for Return Home . The music is credited to many artists from classical composers through to punk bands. The film's main theme is Symphony No 9 in E minor, Opus 95, by Dvorak . This suits the film very well, really enhancing the overall mood and atmosphere of the film. Other contemporary artists featured in the soundtrack include Joe Camilleri, The Celibrate Rifles, TISM, Young Modern and Bored.

   Return Home is a dialogue driven film, so surround usage was suitably low key. Subtle ambience and music were the main soundtrack elements found in the surrounds.

   The subwoofer was quite active throughout, highlighting bass in music and also boosting rumbling car engines.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


   The selection of extras on this disc should please fans of the film, although the lack of an audio commentary is disappointing.


   The menu design is really quite basic. All the menus are themed around the film and are 16x9 enhanced, although none are animated. The main menu is the only one to feature the music of Dvorak. Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s) audio.

Behind-The-Scenes  Deleted Scenes (7:45

   A collection of six nondescript scenes that were removed from the final cut of the film. They play in succession, with no explanation as to why they were cut from the film. Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s) audio.

Behind-The-Scenes  Goof Reel (2:10)

   This short piece is set to music and features some goof footage, but seems to be basically behind the scenes material. Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s) audio.

Behind-The-Scenes  Photo Montage (7:24)

   A very substantial image collection. Consisting of eighty six images, this extra plays automatically, so there is no need to press a button to advance to the next image. The montage also features some background music. Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s) audio.

SBS Movie Show   Broadcast Edit (4:14)

   At the time of the theatrical release of Return Home, David Stratton interviewed director Ray Argall for the Movie Show. This is the edited interview that went to air on the show. Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s) audio.

SBS Movie Show   Complete Interview with Ray Argall (14:15)

    The same interview as in the previous extra, but this time, it's unedited. Not as comprehensive as an audio commentary, but we do get some interesting information on the making of the film. Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s) audio.

Theatrical Trailer  -  Return Home (1:56)   Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s) audio.

Two Short Films -  Both written and directed by Ray Argall.

    Julie Julie  (1983)  (25:17)

   After leaving her old life in Broken Hill behind, Julie arrives on the outskirts of Melbourne on her Ducati motorcycle. She finds some temporary accommodation in a caravan park and gets herself a short term job to help fund her solo travels. But fate is conspiring to find Julie something she hadn't planned on...a soul mate. Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s) audio.

    Dogfood  (1978)  Black and White  (20:34)

    Lisa is confused, frustrated and unemployed. She wants to work with animals and plants, so the employment office offers her a job labelling dogfood cans. She has applied for a forestry job, but isn't really confident of success. Lisa decides only one thing can free her from the rut she's in - she needs to escape. Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s) audio.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    At the time of this review, there is no R1 version available of Return Home.


   Return Home is a brilliant little film with a heart of gold. It is clearly one the better Australian films of the wasteful eighties. The film is totally unpretentious in content and beautifully captures the everyday fears and hopes of family life in a rapidly changing society.

   The video transfer is acceptable, but could have been better.

   The audio transfer is suitably subtle.

   The extras are very good, despite the absence of an audio commentary.


Ratings (out of 5)


© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Sunday, May 29, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDJVC XV-N412, using Component output
DisplayHitachi 106cm Plasma Display 42PD5000MA (1024x1024). This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationPanasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS
SpeakersFronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17

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