Don't Look Now - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Don't Look Now Reviews

Page 1 of 65
Super Reviewer
September 23, 2014
A markedly ominous and labyrinthine story about grief and acceptance, building up around symbols, presages and a constant sense of danger with a fabulous editing and a melancholic score, and making us share the intense confusion and disorientation experienced by the characters.
Super Reviewer
½ August 27, 2010
A chilling thriller that parallels climactic highs with psychedelic horror, this film uses its understated source material to drive the tension forward superbly, and remains artfully directed and shot the entire way through. Using an original short story from the queen of literary gothic horror, Daphne du Maurier, we meet a family in a British country home, the father working on church restorations. Tragically their daughter drowns while trying to retrieve a ball in the creek behind their home, their son unharmed. The couple are obviously devastated, but the husband, John (Sutherland) feels the burden even more because he had a psychic vision of the incident before it happened. John keeps having these unfortunate visions even as he and his wife, Laura (Christie) escape to Venice while he reconstructs yet another church. While in the city the couple experience the strange and abundantly weird aura of the city, clandestine circumstances seemingly surround them starting with their introduction to a couple of sisters, one being blind and psychic. The psychic tries to reconnect their daughter to them via trances and seances, and Laura believes every word, whether it's true or not. John is hesitant to believe, and in that disbelief he becomes disenchanted, following around a small red caped figure who looks, from behind, like his deceased daughter. John goes on to see other strange things, almost dies during a work accident, and chases down the caped figure and his wife, possibly brainwashed, around Venice. The circumstances of the thriller are very chilly, because not only does John constantly experience chances at seeing who he believes to be his daughter, but he and his wife are also trying to reconnect to each other after her death. Neither believes the other is completely sane, and that lends to a distrust between the couple, us the audience, and everyone else within the film. The mood is set as being distrustful and surreptitiously haunted, using distinct cinematography and a disconnect in language that occurs with the setting. The couple's own connection to one another is well established thanks to a very explicit and very passionate love scene, and the twist ending ties together so many miscellaneous odds and ends that it is not only strange but also brilliant. Moody and dark, this film embodies so many genre characteristics and yet remains intact as its own entity, making it one of the best horror films, and beyond genre films, perhaps ever made.
Super Reviewer
½ October 13, 2012
A married couple mourning their child go to Venice where they meet a pair of creepy old ladies who claim to speak for their dead daughter.
A thoroughly uninspired thriller, this film fails to chill or excite. The quick cuts - I call them "flash edits" - do nothing to enhance the film's suspense; rather, they just distract attention from the film's action and induce an epileptic fit. The dramatic question is supposed to be how the prognosticators' predictions will come true, but it didn't work for me. And the ending comes out of nowhere; whereas a film like Momento made me marvel at the clever way the film's inevitable outcome came to pass, Don't Look Now just pulled some crazy shit out of its ass.
The performances by Julie Christie, who is especially beautiful, and Donald Sutherland, who isn't but show it all anyway, are unremarkable, neither good nor bad.
Overall, the writer of this film did Rebecca, one of Hitchcock's finest, but there's nothing touching the genius in her other work in this film.
Super Reviewer
October 23, 2011
Roeg makes Venice's waterways and scenery truly freaky in this classic.
Super Reviewer
July 2, 2007
In England, John (Donald Sutherland) and Laura Baxter (Julie Christie) lose their beloved daughter. Christine (Sharon Williams) drowned in a lake at their home. They move to Venice and leave their son John (Nicholas Salter) in a boarding school. While working in the restoration of a church, John has lunch with Laura that is not fully recovered of her loss and she helps an old lady in the restaurant with a speck of dust in her left eye. Her blind sister that claims to be psychic advises Laura that she can see her daughter happy and close to them; and that John who is also psychic must leave Venice since he is in danger. Laura feels happy with the revelation but the skeptic John does not believe in the elderly sisters. Meanwhile a serial-killer is killing people in Venice. When Laura and John are called during the night by the director of the boarding school telling that John had had a minor accident, Laura travels in the morning to London to see their son. Meanwhile John has an accident in the scaffold in the church and while going back to the hotel, he sees Laura and the sisters on a funeral gondola. Further he glances somebody wearing the red clock with hood that Christine wore when she died. John decides to investigate whether the sisters have abducted his wife and to follow the person with the red cloak with tragic discoveries.

"Don't Look Now" is one of the most beautiful and stylish films I have ever seen. In the 70's, the former cinematographer Nicolas Roeg was in the beginning and the also in the top of his career. This outstanding cult-movie is impressive, with a fragmented narrative and a stunning cinematography. Julie Christie is extremely beautiful and Donald Sutherland is perfect as usual in the role of a couple traumatized by the loss of their beloved daughter, great performances from both here. The screenplay discloses locations that show the decay of Venice, giving sadness to the story. I highly recommend this film but I do understand it might not be to everyones taste. Its a slower paced film by todays standards so if you have a short attention span this might not be for you.
Super Reviewer
February 10, 2011
Don't Look Now comes in for undeserved criticism from people who think that horror movies should be gore-fests. Anyone who truly appreciates the art of horror will recognise this film for what it is: a classic. The atmosphere in this film is incredible for many reasons: Pino Donaggio's haunting score, the wintry Venice location work, the fragmented and thoughtful editting, and the perfect performances. Add to that the most unforgettable twist ending ever filmed (to date, anyway) and you're looking at a tremendous film.

Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie play a couple who go to Venice to recover from the traumatic death of their daughter (she drowned in a pond at the bottom of their garden). They keep seeing a small red-coated figure wandering around the canals, and Sutherland convinces himself that it may be the spirit of his daughter trying to make contact from the other side. However, when he confronts the red-coated figure he is in for one hell of a shock....

Nicholas Roeg's film is a masterpiece. It can be viewed over and over again and with each new viewing it throws up new surprises and possibilities. An enigmatic, haunting and multi-layered treat, Don't Look Now is not to be missed.
Super Reviewer
½ September 5, 2010
This is a very interesting horror thriller movie. The story is both spooky and sad. It's a really great movie, check it out.
Super Reviewer
½ October 2, 2008
Psychological thriller about parents who retreat to Italy after the tragic death of their daughter in a drowning accident. Director Nicolas Roeg masterfully creates an almost dreamlike atmosphere using the canals of Venice as a backdrop. The surroundings are hauntingly eerie. The story develops in such a way that impels the viewer to keep watching. Indeed a genuine sense of dread permeates the action. At times, certain stylistic devices of the filmmaker like glass breaking, the recurrence of the color red and the use of slow motion, can feel a bit self consciously arty. And that infamous love scene which awkwardly intercuts footage of the couple getting dressed for dinner with unusually graphic sex, is hopelessly dated and unsexy. However these are minor criticisms in an intensely absorbing, spooky mood piece of a film. Based on a short story by Daphne du Maurier who also wrote the short story The Birds and the novel Rebecca.
Super Reviewer
½ June 10, 2010
Don't look now is simply a classic of Horror. The acting is superb, the script is well written and the story is solid. Donald Sutherland gives a terrific performance in this terrific Horror film. The story happens in Venice, and surround a couple who recently lost their daughter in an accident. It's not long before the terror starts. The film is at times slow, but it works well to build tension, horror and suspense. This is a film that shouldn't be missed. It's well written and well crafted film. It kept on the edge until the end. Sutherland's wife becomes involved with clairvoyant sisters and gets visions of their daughter. If you like a well written horror yarn, Don't look Now is the type of film you should watch. A solid and effective Horror film.
Daniel Mumby
Super Reviewer
½ January 6, 2010
It's very difficult to look at Don't Look Now without being aware either of its reputation or of its influence. Whether in the opening movement of Anticrhist, Peters' death in Event Horizon, or the girl in red in Schindler's List, it's hard to think of a horror film involving children which does not owe at least something to the work of Nicolas Roeg. That does not mean, however, that the film is a masterpiece; indeed there are many things which prevent it from being even close to perfect. But much like its counterpart The Wicker Man -- which was released with it as a double feature -- the imperfections running through the film add to its impact, creating a viewing experience which is flawed but deeply affecting.

Don't Look Now is a film about grief, about how love and loss can affect our perception of reality, to the extent that time seems to run out of order and the mere sight of a colour can send one's memory into overdrive. It's a film in which the most rational and sceptical character ends up being the most impulsive and erratic, in which the role and intentions of the spirit world are called into question, and in which much of what transpires remains partially or wholly unexplained. The film is a bizarre mix of horror and crime thriller in the giallo tradition, and is anchored by a central romance which ends up collapsing under their combined strength and weight.

Roeg began his career as a cinematographer, and his roots seep through into the direction of Don't Look Now. This means on the one hand that we get stunning visuals, with beautiful colours and some really interesting compositions which present everyday encounters in a different light. However, this also means that Roeg gets bogged down in composition when he should be moving the plot forward. Often he seems more interested in creating interesting shots than in telling the story, as seen by his persistent use of mirror shots and unnecessary multiple camera angles which muddle the simpler scenes. We don't need the camera cutting up and down over Julie Christie when she's breaking down in the toilet; her emotion and the sisters' dialogue is already enough to disorientate us, if indeed that was their intention. This jumpy approach makes the first half in particular feel slower and more languid than it needs to be.

Another problem is that the secondary characters around the central relationship are very underdeveloped. We get the two sisters just fine, but the bishop, the chief of police and the hotel manager pop up from time to time without any real deepening of their characters. This may have been deliberate on the part of Roeg, insofar as the lack of empathy we have for these characters keeps us focussed on the search for the girl. Certainly one of the film's central themes is that of paranoia, of seeing people for a fleeting moment and not being sure whether to trust them. In the later parts of the film, once Mrs. Baxter has left Venice, this works absolutely fine, but otherwise it's just more head-scratching which actually take our eyes off the main story.

Eventually, after much head-scratching and hand-wringing, the film does finally shift into top gear and produce genuine nail-biting tension. You stop feeling as if you should be focussing on the people in the background and actually start doing it of your own accord; you get inside the mind of John Baxter and you keep looking warily for people wearing red in the crowds. As more bodies are dragged out of the Venice canals, and the murder aspect of the story becomes steadily more prominent, you do get the sense of genuine terror as all the different aspects and ideas combine. The last 15 minutes are fantastically tense, and the death of John Baxter is a real nerve-shredding, heart-in-mouth experience. But even as you sit there, heart-in-mouth, you can't help wishing that the rest of the film had been this tense.

In all the years since the film's release, two sequences have caused greater controversy than any other. One is the love scene, in which Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland make intimate love in their hotel room, intercut with them getting dressed for dinner afterwards. The intercutting is a clever touch by Roeg. Initially it prevents the scene from being gratuitous; regardless of whether or not the actors actually had sex, there are clearly two people on screen who are doing this because they love each other, not for our pleasure.

More than that though, it gives the audience a means to unlock the film's peculiar relationship with time. We are presented with a series of images which do not make sense when accepted in their existing order. We have to see what happens when and think about what we see, rather than just allow ourselves to be titillated. It's as if Roeg is offering us this scene as a trial run for the rest of the film; if we can handle time jumping around during something pleasant, we'll be able to make sense of it when things turn nasty.

The other sequence is the death of John Baxter at the hands of the serial killer. After chasing a small figure in a red coat through the back streets of Venice, Sutherland winds up in a church and finds the figure crying in a corner. He asks her to turn around, only to find it is not his daughter but a dwarf, who promptly cuts his neck open with a knife. On paper, this revelation could come as an anticlimax, but once again its double meanings prevent it from seeming this way on screen.

Once again, the scene is a reference to the confusion between past, present and future; only in the moment before he is killed does Sutherland recognise the figure from the photograph at the beginning of the film. The rapid montage of images which follows represents his life flashing before his eyes, with everything only making sense when it is too late. It is also a chilling warning about the power of grief and the extent to which it can destroy someone's life. Baxter projects his grief onto this figure so that whoever is in that coat becomes his daughter, and whatever 'his daughter' does to him is the judgement on whether he was right to do so. Christie's character survives becomes she works to make peace with her daughter, atoning for the loss so she may care for those still living. Sutherland fails to deal with his grief until it consumes him, abandoning the living and leaving him dead inside, even before we realise it is the killer.

Don't Look Now is a deeply affecting film, at turns creepy, uncompromising, thought-provoking and strange. It is also deeply flawed, both in its initial pace and in aspects of its direction. It doesn't have the same narrative discipline as Roeg's later films like The Man Who Fell To Earth, and as a Du Maurier adaptation, it has to take second fiddle to both Rebecca and The Birds. There are times when Roeg's visuals overwhelm the story and threaten to overwhelm the themes. But there is more than enough of both to make watching it a memorable and ultimately rewarding experience. The Wicker Man remains the superior film, but this is still well worth a look.
Super Reviewer
½ December 26, 2009
I would go so far as to say that this film looks marvelous, but that's about all it really has going for it. I can see why it's particular look has had an influence, but the other 9/10's include a story that goes nowhere....slowly. It loses a star automatically for the gratuitous love-making scene, which I've constantly said over and over again, is never needed in a film that's trying to tell a real story. Problem is, this film HAS no real story, so it remains altogether convoluted, at least, to this viewers eyes. The original DVD transfer looks, for the most part, fantastic on my hi def output system, so I don't know what all those other reviewers are bitching about.
Super Reviewer
January 13, 2009
70's Gothic piece that's part crime drama and part supernatural horror. Thirty (+) years have done little to diminish this wonderfully creepy little film that's critically acclaimed but rarely discussed.
Super Reviewer
March 10, 2007
This is a Horror film based on horrific circumstances that the main characters find themselves in, as opposed to scary.

I think I'm in the minority here when say I found the film dull and despite it's claim to be an influence on many other Directors, I failed to see the appeal of this films.

Also having wanted to see Donald Sutherland as a younger Actor, disappointingly, it seems I haven?t missed out on an much, which is proof that some Actors get better with age.
Super Reviewer
December 28, 2007
In the wake of their daughter's drowning death, a young couple go to Venice to restore a church and meet a blind psychic who says she can see the child. Intricately constructed, wonderful use of haunted Venice locations, and with an intriguing payoff, but the film is so terribly slow to get started that many will give up before they get to the good stuff.
Super Reviewer
May 9, 2007
Nicholas Roeg's wickedly creepy ghost story is well worth watching on a dark and stormy night.
Super Reviewer
February 22, 2008
Obviously informed by giallo films, in combination with Nicolas Roeg's dreamlike and disoriented editing, Don't Look Now is a very unique horror movie. I think it's a fucking neat one, too.

The movie is not particularly scary, not at least until its incredibly intense final sequence. It's instead very ominous. Watching Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland prowl the back alleys of Venice makes for not only some really inspired camera work, but a lot of eerie little moments as well. The kind of stuff that makes you squint your eyes and say "oh, weird" to yourself.

It's a miracle that Don't Look Now gets away with all of this, because to be honest, not much actually happens in the movie. I was enjoying just basking in it so much that I never really noticed its bare-bones plot until the third act. There's a scene where Julie Christie has to leave for some time and Donald Sutherland freaks out and wanders through Venice for what seems like twenty minutes; it's a huge weak point in a movie that generally makes good with its material.

Julie Christie is awesome in everything she does, but I really don't like Donald Sutherland. Objectively there's nothing wrong with his acting, but he seems so detached from the material. Whenever his character is in danger or under emotional duress, he just kind of makes these choked sobs. Hanging from a rope seventy feet off the air? "Guh. Grack." Plus, I get the sensation that he's a real tool.

I know that everyone's familiar with this movie for the sex scene, which is admittedly a real triumph of editing and...well, realism. It's quite tricky to make such mundane things seem so interesting. But as an actual movie and not a five-minute erotic clip, it's a damn fine effort.
Super Reviewer
½ October 26, 2006
Laura Baxter: One of your children has posed a curious question: if the world is round, why is a frozen lake flat?
John Baxter: Nothing is what it seems.

Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie star as a loving couple who go through an unfortunate tragedy at the beginning of the film, when their daughter drowns in a nearby lake.

The strange thing is how Sutherland's character was able to know what was going on and rush to where she was, only a little too late.

The couple travel to Venice, where they still grieve over their loss. While there, they encounter a pair of elderly sisters, one of which is a blind psychic who claims to see the couple's daughter following them around. Sutherland's character too witnesses various clues to some mysterious happenings but will he understand them in time?

This is a very British psychological thriller. From the way characters are presented, the editing, the music, and even the way the story unfolds. This is in no way a bad thing, just something I was able to identify rather quickly.

The story is somewhat puzzling, but both leads are good in there roles to keep things together. The music is particularly good here, as well as the way the color red plays throughout the film.

I can't say this movie had me enthralled the whole way through, but it was enjoyable enough.

Laura Baxter: This one who's blind. She's the one that can see.
Super Reviewer
½ July 30, 2007
Most of the time is nothing more than the drama of a married couple, but little by little things start turning distressing and creepy. terrifying twist at the end.
Super Reviewer
September 20, 2007
Way more than your average horror film. So incredibly detailed that you notice something new every time you watch it, like how the colour red is used sparingly to create a subconscious impact.
Super Reviewer
½ August 8, 2007
An unsettling classic which instills a sense of unease and sustains it till the unexpected climax
Page 1 of 65