Don't Look Now Reviews
Been languishing on my watch-list for ages after seeing it on IGN's list of top horror films. 'Don't Look Now' deals with the concept of grief in an unique manner and would be useful for an English class who can study the abundance of imagery and symbolism. As a piece of entertainment, it is so dreary and uneventful that you wished you followed the instructions of the title.
I should note that, aside from a few moments, I really wasn't all that scared. Even in the scariest moments, I wasn't all that scared. I don't say this as a negative, necessarily. I just felt I should mention this as feedback for those of you planning on watching it and hoping it'll be utterly terrifying.
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.
~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.
"If the world is round, why is a frozen lake flat?"
See also: THE VANISHING (SPOORLOOS) (1988)
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.
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.
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.
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.