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Don't Look Now
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Working with elements of the traditional horror genre - second sight, ESP, warnings from the dead, a mad killer - and a cinematography of disquieting beauty and dreamlike sense of dislocation, director Nicolas Roeg weaves a fabric of anxiety that questions all reality. The evocative use of the back streets of Venice is a sinister participant in the action based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier. This intensely erotic and macabre film boasts outstanding performances by Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland.
Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now once seemed radically new with its kaleidoscopic imagery, dreamlike editing, and willingness to let mystery be mysterious on several levels of reality/illusion--plus art-house darling Julie Christie in a long, nude love scene! Nowadays, this 1974 adaptation of a Daphne du Maurier ghost story looks almost classical. Following the drowning of their child in England, Laura (Christie) and John Baxter (Donald Sutherland) have come to dank, eternally dying Venice, where he is supervising the restoration of a moldering church and she is either slipping into or climbing out of madness with the help of a pair of creepy spinster sisters, one of whom can "see" even though blind. John may share this psychic power, though he resists accepting it as the canals fill with murder victims, surface realities turn shimmery as water, and a red-coated figure--the daughter's ghost?--keeps flickering in the corner of our vision. Though surrealand perplexing, the film does eventually add up, and the ending remains a real throat-grabber. --Richard T. Jameson
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Sutherland and Christie have just lost a daughter by drowning. While in Venice they meet spinster sisters, one who is blind, who tells the grieving Christie that she has "seen" her daughter. The plot gets scarier by the minute. There is a wonderful sense of forboding that builds into a horrific climax. The film is beautifully shot with images-- blood, water, Christie and the two sisters riding in a water taxi-- repeated.
The sex scene between Christie and Sutherland has to be one of the most erotic ever shot and remains so after 30 years. The director intersperses their sex romp with scenes of their getting dressed to leave their hotel, a great touch.
Certainly the movie is not as frightening the second time around since we know the outcome; that is certainly not a criticism, however.
DON'T LOOK NOW remains one of the best of the genre.
Definitely a must-see if you appreciate a great film that delivers at the end. Today's suspense movies just can't hold up to this as they tend to rely too much on gore and special effects, instead of solid storytelling and acting.