Don't Look Now - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Don't Look Now Reviews

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Super Reviewer
November 25, 2016
With a melancholy score and fabulous editing, this notably ominous and labyrinthine story about grief and acceptance uses symbols, omens and a constant sense of danger to make us share the intense confusion and disorientation experienced by its characters.
November 11, 2016
'Don't Look Now' is a quietly unsettling horror film with terrific performances and outstanding direction. The nonlinear storytelling gives the film a bizarre sense of chaos that enhances the mystery and strengthens the ending twist, and the atmosphere is downright spooky. This is a film that requires multiple viewings, and every single one is a treat.
November 6, 2016
The bathroom scene is one of the most awkward ever. This is porn.
This is undoubtedly one of the worst movies ever made. It's stupid, on a level that I never even knew went that low. However, the end was kind of cool. Aside from (& including) that, it made no sense. This is the kind of film that only makes sense after you see it. Then you have to go back a second time & connect the dots. Unfortunately, it wasn't good enough to make me want to. Interesting idea, but lazy execution.
½ October 27, 2016
"Nothing is what it seems."
~John Baxter (Donald Sutherland)

Reeling from the death of their daughter Christine (Sharon Williams), Laura Baxter (Julie Christie) accompanies her husband John (Donald Sutherland) on a business trip to Venice, that living labyrinth to which doomed lives and loves abscond. John grapples with guilt as well as grief: He was unable to save Christine, despite having foreseen her drowning. Laura, at least, finds solace in the words of blind psychic Heather (Hilary Mason), who claims to "see" Christine. Even as John continues to dismiss Heather as a crackpot, he can't deny the shame he feels, and he keeps crossing paths with a figure in a red rain coat-much like the one Christine wore the day she drowned. In stark contrast to Heather's, his abilities offer only torment. When regrets and premonitions plague your present, your future holds no pleasant surprise.

Nicolas Roeg experiments with cinematography and editing throughout DON'T LOOK NOW, and more than often than not, his experiments succeed resoundingly. No one sequence demonstrates his daring better than the famous love scene featuring Christie and Sutherland. Roeg wished to convey an unprecedented degree of intimacy between his leads and, constrained by social mores and that very lack of precedent, contended with censors on both sides of the Atlantic.

During the making of JAWS, "Bruce" (the animatronic shark) malfunctioned to the point that Spielberg lessened his screen time, thus heightening the suspense that helped create the first summer blockbuster. Boundaries here, too, breed innovation. Roeg intercuts shots of the couple mid-coitus with shots post-, of their getting dressed, to circumvent the censors' sundry rules. Not only does this impart John's precognition to viewers, but it also heightens our empathy for him and Laura. Sex is a temporary salve, a brief distraction from the past that haunts their present and from which they cannot escape. We can enjoy it no more than they, because for us, it's already over. Far greater than mere titillation, this scene serves both as a microcosm of the film and as a look into the souls of its characters: a second sight, if you will, of bereavement.
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"If the world is round, why is a frozen lake flat?"
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See also: THE VANISHING (SPOORLOOS) (1988)
October 19, 2016
In the 40 years since the release of Don't Look Now, the film has grown a legacy that few other films can claim. It has been called one of the most influential British films of its generation, and a brilliantly psychological subversion of the thriller format, as well as carrying a controversial theory that it had an un-simulated sex scene. It's a film that lives up to its lofty reputation though, as Nicholas Roeg did indeed construct a film both unsettling and cerebral here, exploring a couple's grief, and using the city of Venice as the most Freudian playground. Rich with recurring themes of precognition and gender communication, Roeg applied a fragmented editing style to the film that was almost unheard of for the day, but now has become familirized by filmmakers like Danny Boyle and Daron Aronofsky. It's an elegant film too, even at its most shocking and violent, and despite it's supernatural elements Don't Look Now feels closer to arthouse than horror. The aforementioned love scene (Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie were indeed rumored to be having an affair) is still graphic by today's standards, but it's cut and scored in a way that makes it both beautiful and thematically necessary, and it's easily on the short list for best movie sex scenes of all time. A masterpiece that has only grown more potent with age, as it surpasses all its imitators.
½ October 17, 2016
Some time after the drowning of their young daughter, Christine (Sharon Williams), in a tragic accident at their English country home, John Baxter (Donald Sutherland) and his grief-stricken wife, Laura (Julie Christie), take a trip to Venice after John accepts a commission from a bishop (Massimo Serato) to restore an ancient church. Laura encounters two elderly sisters, Heather (Hilary Mason) and Wendy (Clelia Matania), at a restaurant where she and John are dining; Heather claims to be psychic and-despite being blind-informs Laura she is able to "see" the Baxters' deceased daughter. Shaken, Laura returns to her table, where she faints. Laura is taken to the hospital, where she later tells John what Heather told her. John is sceptical but pleasantly surprised by the positive change in Laura's demeanour. Soon enough John experience mysterious sightings...

At the time of its initial release, Don't Look Now was generally well received by critics, although some criticised it for being "arty and mechanical". Jay Cocks for Time, wrote that "Don't Look Now is such a rich, complex and subtle experience that it demands more than one viewing", while Variety commented that the film's visual flourishes made it "much more than merely a well-made psycho-horror thriller". Pauline Kael writing for The New Yorker was more reserved in her praise, considering the film to be "the fanciest, most carefully assembled enigma yet put on the screen" but that there was a "distasteful clamminess about the picture", while Gordon Gow of Films and Filming felt that it fell short of the aspirations of Nicolas Roeg's previous two films, Performance and Walkabout, but it was nevertheless a thriller of some depth. Vincent Canby, reviewer for The New York Times, on the other hand, criticised the film for a lack of suspense which he put down to a twist that comes halfway through rather than at the end, and at which point it "stops being suspenseful and becomes an elegant travelogue that treats us to second-sightseeing in Venice". British critics were especially enthusiastic about Nicolas Roeg's direction. In the view of Tom Milne of Monthly Film Bulletin, Roeg's combined work on Performance, Walkabout and Don't Look Now put him "right up at the top as film-maker". George Melly similarly wrote in The Observer that Roeg had joined "that handful of names whose appearance at the end of the credit titles automatically creates a sense of anticipation". Penelope Houston for Sight & Sound also found much to appreciate in Roeg's direction: "Roeg deploys subtle powers of direction and Hitchcockian misdirection." American critics were similarly impressed with Roeg's work on the film. Jay Cocks regarded Don't Look Now to be Roeg's best work by far and that Roeg was one of "those rare talents that can effect a new way of seeing". Cocks also felt that the film was a marked improvement on the novella, noting that a reading "makes one appreciate Roeg and Screenwriters [Allan] Scott and [Chris] Bryant all the more. Film and story share certain basic elements of plot and an ending of cruel surprise. The story is detached, almost cursory. Roeg and his collaborators have constructed an intricate, intense speculation about levels of perception and reality." Roger Ebert in his review for the Chicago Sun-Times commented that Roeg is "a genius at filling his frame with threatening forms and compositions", while Pauline Kael labelled him "chillingly chic" in hers. Even Vincent Canby, whose opinion of the film was negative overall, praised Roeg for being able to "maintain a sense of menace long after the screenplay has any right to expect it". Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland also received praise for their performances. Variety considered Sutherland to be at his most subdued but also at his most effective, while Christie does her "best work in ages". Cocks felt that thanks to their superb performances the film had a "rigorous psychological truth and an emotional timbre" that most other films in the supernatural genre lacked. Canby considered the "sincerity of the actors" to be one of the better aspects of the film, while Kael found Christie especially suited to the part, observing she has the "anxious face of a modern tragic muse". Roeg's use of Venice was praised too, with Roger Ebert finding that he "uses Venice as well as she's ever been used in a movie", and Canby also noted Venice is used to great effect: "He gets a great performance from Venice, which is all wintery grays, blues and blacks, the color of the pigeons that are always underfoot." Variety also found much to admire about the editing, writing that it is "careful and painstaking (the classically brilliant and erotic love-making scene is merely one of several examples) and plays a vital role in setting the film's mood". Daphne du Maurier was pleased with the adaptation of her story, and wrote to Nicolas Roeg to congratulate him for capturing the essence of John and Laura's relationship. The film was not received well by Venetians, particularly the councillors who were afraid it would scare away tourists. At the 27th British Academy Film Awards, Anthony B. Richmond won for Best Cinematography, and Don't Look Now received further nominations in the Best Film, Direction, Actor, Actress, Sound Track and Film Editing categories. It was also nominated in the Best Motion Picture category at the 1974 Edgar Allan Poe Awards.

"Donīt Look Now" has been on my to see list for a long time and I have seen it being praised in movie magazines such as Total Film which I read and enjoy. The film carries partly conventional layers of a horror movie but also unconventional layers of a psychological thriller. The main focus is on the effects of grief, and the effect it has on a relationship. The film is a puzzle and as well a puzzle that maintains partly unsolved in the end. The longer the running time the more ambiguous and complex the film becomes. On one hand you feel "What the hell did I just see?" when the film is over and at the same time the abstractness, questions and powerful images will haunt you afterwards. Itīs not a rational film and itīs disturbing in many ways. The innovative editing style, and its use of recurring motifs and themes with flashbacks and flashforwards creates an alteration of the viewer's perception. The imagery with familiar objects, patterns and colours pushes the viewer to maintain an associative mindset during the film. What is rational and what is irrational? What is fragments of Johnīs imagination and what is not? Donald Sutherland carries his characters grief like a dark and spooky cloak while Julie Christieīs Laura has a more ambiguous balance to hers. Both does a fine job and I must personally say that I thought that Julie Christie is marvelous in this film. She is just magnificent and beautiful. Radiant, lovely, sexy and sensual. A magic actress and woman. The movie's notorious love scene is explicit, but not so erotic. The scene is intercut with scenes showing them dressing which changes the whole scene itself. An interesting editing choice. It makes sense that the story uses Venice as the location considering the importance of water in the film and I do like how Roeg has used the city. The Gothic majesty of the city and the canals create a ghostlike feeling that adds to the story. The movie manages to really build up tension and suspense, but the climax is disappointing in my point of view. Roeg tries to sum it up, but it still confuses and thereīs no real conclusion. I reckon itīs a unique film, but not really my cup of tea in the end as the genre itself is not a favourite one.
Super Reviewer
September 22, 2016
Don't Look Now is an adaptation of Du Maurier's short story of the same name. Many elements were changed to emphasise the grief of characters, the colourful symbolism was greatly used build up suspense and the twist was fantastic. One of the best British cinema in the 70s.
September 21, 2016
Note-perfect direction, pacing, script and performances make this one of the eeriest, creepiest and unique horror films I have ever seen, and from Roeg's very strong run of films. Perhaps the finest 'reveal' of all time, in fact.

In short, a 'must-see' film, and if you enjoy beautifully-shot psychological horror, it's definitely worth a purchase in the finest quality print available, and re-watches...hopefully once every Halloween season, in fact.
½ August 19, 2016
My first Nicolas Roeg film I believe, but I have some others on my list. This is a film that's pretty hard to put into a genre, but with the dramatic beginning, with a drowning child things turn scarier and even thrilling.

The grieving parents has left England and stay in Venice after the incident. When the mother, portrayed by the beautiful Julie Christie get in touch with some creepy twins that say they can connect with their lost one. The father, portrayed by Donald Sutherland, does not believe in this mumbo jumbo so we get some conflict here as well.

The production is neat. Editing and clipping, images that overlap the screen. Some sounds and freaky stuff appear often. It's a original way of creating something scary.
It reminds me of something Polanski could have done or even the amazing "Possession" from Andrzej Zulawski at times. Emotional film, not as scary today as it was in the 70's I'm sure, but it's got some creepyness. A very graphic, well shot sex scene added hype, and for that matter the rest of the film is also well shot.

A psychological film that are bound to stay with you for a while.

7.5 out of 10 gondolas.
August 8, 2016
Just read the critics' consensus, it says absolutely everything you need to know about the movie.
½ July 24, 2016
While I wasn't completely blown away by this movie, I can understand why it has such a huge following among the film buffs. The directing and cinematography was perfection. There wasn't a single throwaway shot. Look up "visual storytelling" in the dictionary, you might find this as an example. The acting was phenomenal and the twist was superb. While this movie had some visually startling things, the majority of the creepiness had to do with the mood. From the first 5 minutes, you get this feeing that something bad is going to happen. And after the initial tragedy, the feeling doesn't go away, and as the movie progresses, the mood grows more and more paranoid and confusing and you're waiting for something bad to happen.
I'm not in love with this movie, not through any fault of its own, but just because it was ultimately not my kind of movie.
3.5/5 stars
May 27, 2016
What a great movie. Its setting in Venice is a perfect for creating a sense of the claustrophobia of mourning. Everything is shabby and worn, but also beautiful - water is always threatening to overwhelm. All characters are placed under suspicion - no one is trustworthy, even those who seem to be trying to help. The ending - wow. I did not see it coming. Even the sex scene is rich, disturbing, and strange. There is nothing unusual about it except for the flute accompaniment - and this usual-ness, in its sweaty, animal entirety, is unsettling but life-affirming, leaving the viewer compromised and longing for resolution.
½ May 26, 2016
A haunting spirits chasing the couple from the spiritworld. Set in the rustic Venice, shadowing their perception of reality. Death is knocking on the door.
April 13, 2016
Mr. Sutherland and Ms. Christie convey the profound heartache their characters feel, even as the slow-burning tension becomes more and more frightening and the images become more and more nightmarish.
April 10, 2016
It has stood the test of time well, continuing to be scary and, for new viewers, unpredictable. However, Don't Look Now largely succeeds on its technical brilliance combining unique editing with unsettling camerawork, making for an unforgettable experience.
½ February 9, 2016
A bit of a slow start but all,worth it in the end.
January 22, 2016
Dated suspense/horror film. The idea is there, but...it just has such a cliche 70s feel. Found myself cracking up from the get-go: the opening scene of him yelling "NOOOOOOO" while holding his dead daughter in the pond; while he was dangling from the scaffolding after almost falling to his death in the church; the quick shots of the old ladies cackling, thrown in between shots of Sutherland and his wife; the sex scene!? Oh my god, that sex scene! hahahaha!!! I DID NOT need to see Sutherland having his toes kissed. I will say that the ending and the "payoff" was cool. Just took too long to get there. And the film did have me thrown off for a while. Only after a second viewing did I realize that everything was related to his "seeing" abilities. But, like I already said, took too long to get there. This could have easily been a 90 minute feature. I guess when it first came out it was breathtaking, but then again everyone said the same about the Sixth Sense, another overrated suspense with a cheap "surprise" at the end.
December 14, 2015
After seeing so many glowing reviews on this movie, I had to watch it for myself. Being included in so many "Best Horror Movies of All Time" lists, I figured that it would have me sitting in my chair with my head buried in a pillow. What happened however was anything but. Instead of chills, creepy feelings and that feeling of utter dread that stays with you after a particularly scary movie, I found myself confused and bewildered, wondering more if the "Horror " in this movie was whether my head was going to explode from the random editing style and weird disjointed directing.
I cannot see this movie as anything other than art house as Roeg's directing has me convinced he believes he's the most clever guy in the room. I kept waiting for the scary moments to happen, but all I got were continuous random edits that made me wonder why the hell they were ever included in the movie to begin with. It's as if they wanted to fill time so they included whatever the hell the cinematographer's camera landed on after he spun the thing around. Picture this is you will, Imagine an attempt at building a sense of tension by having a conversation between Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland. In this conversation, Sutherland gets angered at Christie's belief that the two creepy old women (and they are creepy) can see his dead daughter. They talk, she tries to get him to understand, he gets angry, they talk, he gets angry again, then out of nowhere the camera close ups on a tea kettle! Why? WHY!?!?! These edits have no place in the movie and they do nothing to further the story, all they wind up doing is confusing the person watching the movie!
I had to force myself to finish watching, and I watched the whole thing because I believed it had to get scary at some point. Nope. A few minutes left in the movie I realized I had been a patsy to one of the greatest movie cons of all time.
Oh, and **SPOILER ALERT** having a little person be the murderer at the end was about as out there as it gets. At no point in the story does it ever allude to this uber creepy person being under suspicion! Nope, instead it was added as though at a meeting everyone realized they'd thrown together almost 100 minutes or random crap and needed an ending...Oh let's have a "midget" be the killer! Yeah! Beautiful! Print it.
I'm no cinephile but I like to think I know a decent movie, and this isn't one. Steer clear of this one unless you want to scratch your head for an hour after you've finished watching, all the while wondering what the hell!!!!!
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