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'Bad Timing' is an admirable bore and feels like a chore to get through. Theresa Russell carries the day (barely) with her great stirring performance
Art Garfunkel? como actor?
A psychological tour de force, both fascinating and unnerving, definitely enhanced by the director's non-linear style of story-telling.
Hated by critics on release who branded the film sick. What we have here is the story of relationship which goes off the the rails in a get Freudian way. Roeg uses all his skills to show in flashback how obsession turns to something ever darker Art Garfunkel is fine but it's Theresa Russell who gives the film it's edge she is brilliant as the vulnerable and disturbed partner. A film for those who think love stories need more venom in there brew
you feel yourself in nightmare but you can't wake up!
Nic Roeg's films may be an acquired taste, but he does try to go where others don't. For dysfunctional relationships, this comes close to "In the Realm of the Senses"
Nicolas Roeg's characteristically obtuse sexual mystery is elevated to one of his best movies by Theresa Russell's outstanding central performance. She plays a promiscuous and needy beauty, a source of endless fascination to Art Garfunkel's psychology professor. Garfunkel doesn't begin to mine the depths and layers of his character, which compromises things somewhat. Vienna is suitably cold and austere, and the echoes of The Third Man can't be unintentional.
Bad Timing is another reminder of how underrated and underutilized Theresa Russell is and what an accomplished actress she was at just 23 when this film was released. Randomly set in Vienna, the plot centers around Alex (Art Garfunkel), an emotionally repressed chain smoking psychiatrist who begins a mutually obsessive affair with a sensual younger woman Milena (Russell). Milena's addictive personality, erratic behavior, and sexual openness both frustrate and fascinate Alex, and she seems to be drawn to his status as a solid, erudite older man that will put up with her outbursts and meltdowns. Director Nicolas Roeg reveals a nuanced picture of how relationships based on physical attraction and emotional co-dependency play out and how they can be sustained even when the couple has nothing else in common and no real conversations unless centered around foreplay or fighting. However Art Garfunkel's wooden performance prevents the audience from caring about Alex, and the reasons behind Milena's more self-destructive and ultimately suicidal behavior are never really revealed. The most controversial moment of the film comes when Milena calls Alex to her apartment after taking an overdose of pills and alcohol, and Alex, in some perverted and psychotic expression of affection, rapes Milena when she is in a catatonic state. However Roeg failed to give viewers any sense of the kind of creeping danger in this relationship that would lead to such a violent and horrific act. Ultimately too many artistic flourishes used in Roeg's flashback style storytelling and the mismatch in talent and charisma of the two lead actors holds back Bad Timing from realizing its full potential.
This is a film that requires more than just casual viewing; multi-tasking such as texting others or browsing the internet while watching it is not recommended. It's too easy to miss important details with the frequent intercut flashbacks. This is not Roeg's greatest film, but it's not a "bad" one either. I had no problem following the back story flashbacks intercut with the real-time ambulance, hospital efforts to save Flaherty (Russell), and the investigation into her suicide attempt by Insp. Netusil (Keitel). The flashbacks are Dr. Linden's (Garfunkel) recollections of the origin of his affair with Flaherty, its progression and the actual events on the night of her attempted suicide. While some may not be satisfied with the ending and possibly find it frustrating with a seeming lack of sufficient resolution, I was not bothered much by it. Everyone knows everything by the end. Including how they act on it (or choose not to) in the film ends is not relevant or necessary. "Bad Timing" is the very appropriate title for the film, and it's very descriptive of several aspects and dimensions. It's dark regarding the psychological states of both Dr. Linden and Flaherty. The movie depicts their sexual affair without concealing anything, but it doesn't come across as gratuitous either, showing various aspects of their relationship, not just the sexual encounters, all of which help develop their very different personalities.
One of the more edgy and riveting films I've seen from this era. (I see why I didn't catch this one in the theater when I was 10.)