Don’t Look Now (Nicolas Roeg, 1973)
After the accidental death by drowning of their daughter, a couple (Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland) goes to Venice for a contract of church restoration. Laura (Christie) meets a couple of elderly sisters that told her that her daughter his still with them. It is one of the sisters, who is blind, that tells that she can see her sitting between them. Following this memorable scene the couple will be intertwined in a story of look alike and apparitions. It also contains one of the most well recognized sex scenes ever shot on film.
At the time, feature films didn’t contained scenes that explicit and having two big names performing must have done quite a concussion. But the way Roeg edited the scene with the couple getting ready to go dinner gave him his pass through censors and despite the clear heat and steaminess of the scene it is quite tastefully done. There was a whole debate about whether the scene was simulated or not and like Last Tango in Paris, it doesn’t diminish the value of the film in any case.
Based on a story by Daphne Du Maurier, who also wrote the original material for Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca, The Birds, and Jamaica Inn. Starting with this idea, Don’t Look Now isn’t your typical thriller especially knowing that it was directed by Nicolas Roeg. Playing more on the psychological side of Horror, Don’t Look Now has gained much respect with the time and it is now regarded as one of the greatest British films of all time. Quite stylized with an impressionistic approach, Roeg’s directing makes the more important mark with the film and even as of today, it has been widely influential on its followers. It slowly takes its way into film cannons but the fact that it doesn’t fit into a particular genre, film lovers tend to sometimes struggle with its peculiar propos. It is also Roeg’s greatest film as a director and even his other praised films The Man Who Fell to Earth, Bad Timing, or Performance don’t seem to have made the same impact in Film history.
The memory of Don’t Look Now that I had before revisiting it for this Horror themed end of October, was that it was quite dated, something I hate to write in a review, but very interesting. As of now, I rediscovered it and I must say that it is a masterpiece that reminds me of David Lynch’s films and that I think that Roeg was interested in experimental Cinema but succeeded into making a studio film with experimental elements. The storytelling techniques are bold and efficient but they also demonstrate a great search into a filmic language that few filmmakers would bother to use. It is a visual treat and the way Roeg shoots his scenes, cuts them, and paste them together has a natural sense of cinematic grandeur. It is far from being subtle but also really intelligent in its presentation. For those who care some say that paired with The Wicker Man it makes an interesting double feature.