Combustible Celluloid
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With: James Mason, Helen Mirren, Jack MacGowran, Neva Carr-Glynn, Andonia Katsaros, Michael Boddy, Harold Hopkins, Slim DeGrey, Max Meldrum, Frank Thring, Clarissa Kaye-Mason, Judith McGrath, Lenore Caton, Diane Strachan, Roberta Grant, Lonsdale, Prince Nial
Written by: Peter Yeldham, based on a novel by Norman Lindsay
Directed by: Michael Powell
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 106
Date: 14/05/1969

Age of Consent (1969)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Model Citizens

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Buy The Films of Michael Powell on DVD

After the scandal created by his Peeping Tom (1960), the great British director Michael Powell was forced to eke out a living for the rest of his life. He made this, his final film, in Australia. And though it lacks the vivid touch from his earlier days, it has a surprisingly comfortable, relaxed feel, still vigorous but also at peace. James Mason stars as famous artist Bradley Morahan, who gets tired of big city life, gallery shows and his annoying friend Nat (think "gnat") (Jack MacGowran) and retreats to a remote island to paint. There he meets the sensual island girl Cora (Helen Mirren), who dreams of leaving the island and must swindle money to do it; she lives with her shrewish, drunk grandmother (Neva Carr-Glynn) who keeps a tight leash on the girl. Bradley begins to paint Cora, and though the outcome is fairly obvious, Powell luxuriates in the time it takes to get there. The film is more sun-baked than studio-set, but Powell manages to get brilliant colors in through Bradley's paintings (actually painted by Paul Delprat). Mason was about 60 at the time, and Mirren a ripe, gorgeous 24, but they somehow click -- two outsiders in a tired old world.

DVD Details: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has released this "lost" gem on a new 2009 DVD set with a commentary track by Kent Jones, an introduction by Martin Scorsese, interviews and other featurettes. The two-disc set also comes with Powell's earlier masterpiece A Matter of Life and Death (1946). I can't say it's the world's most perfect double feature, but it's wonderful to have both films available on Region 1 DVD at last.

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