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Middle Age Spread

Middle Age Spread

The Film Archive screens John Reid’s hilarious film adaptation of Roger Hall’s play. Middle Age Spread (1979) is no mere parading of middle class morality. Wit and thoughtfulness are judiciously mixed. And there is a bonus in the excellent original music by Stephen McCurdy.

Middle Age Spread centres on Colin, the deputy principal of a city high school. He’s a reluctant applicant for the principal’s job, but the pressures of school life don’t encourage him to seek this promotion.

At home, his wife Elizabeth has settled into the role of an increasingly disinterested partner. As the film begins, she’s giving a dinner party to which four friends have been invited. One of them is Judy, a teacher who has had a temporary job at Colin’s school. She’s with her husband but the two have had a long separation and have been reconciled only for the sake of the children.

Two other neighbours complete the dinner party and what happens during the evening makes for a unique “comedy of bad manners.”

The dinner party is only a part of this film – flashbacks reveal the secrets of all the dinner guests, most importantly the slow-growing love affair between Colin (who has taken up jogging in an effort to combat his spreading waistline) and Judy. The climax, which ends the dinner and also the film, is electric.

“Roger Hall’s play, and Keith Aberdein’s script bring the feelings and fears of this rampantly middle-class, slightly weathered, uncomfortably ‘real’ bevy of people together under one roof to begin their comic dissection of our days in suburbia and beyond. Set around ‘a dinner party’ these six people are the trappings of (products of?) and trapped by their own self-inflicted materialistic greed – people, who it seems, have got everything, but end up with nothing more, nothing less… The film is at its most hilarious when pinpointing acute areas of pretense, leaving very few subjects untouched that are dear to all our hearts... The cast, the crew, producer and director (plus of course the two writers) are to be congratulated. They have made a very valid, and truthfully reflective film. It’s also bloody funny, if I neglected to make that point!” - Michael Heath, Evening Post, 30 June 1979

The Middle Age Spread will screen at the Film Archive, Wellington, at 7pm on February the 20th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd.


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