Don't Look Now Reviews
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.