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Two cold war spies (Art Garfunkel and Theresa Russell) enter into an ill-fated and apparently pointless, cat and mouse romance, but we don't realize it's going nowhere until we've sat through it to the end. Russel is sent to the West by Denholm Elliot (an intriguing character actor whose talents are squandered here) to attract Garfunkel, a CIA'd-up psychiatric professor, who simultaneously receives a dossier on Russell. There's lot;s of rough sex, and a near fatal drug overdose, but little actual intrigue, point or purpose.
The most the film has to offer is that the story unfolds in such a way, via Garfunkel's flashbacks, that we get some interesting insight into Garfunkel's character by the end, and reality turns out to be something different from what we had assumed. However, the character insight we get is the kind that would be more relevant to relationship drama than a cold war character study -which Bad Timing purports to be.
One oasis of satisfaction in the film is Harvey Keitel's performance as an East German Stasi and Czech Secret Policei-collaborating West German inspector. Keitel was born to play sinsister characters who lead twisted double lives, and his part in Bad Timing primes him for future roles such as the detective in Cop Killer (aka Corrupt, 1983 -see littlemissbloodandguts' review - http://www.flixster.com/movie/copkiller#review:845662639_770705287),
Bad Timing's worth a watch but if you're looking for cold war romance and intrigue under the came roof, try The Russia House (1990), or The Double Agent (1962).
I was really looking forward to this latest David Cronenberg release, expecting the sensationally morbid filmmaker to deliver incipient, creeping dread and disgust on a higher tier than ever before. Instead what I got was a sophomoric talk fest that from the beginning made me feel like I arrived 20 minutes late or should have read the book.
No creepy thrills or chills, but I did sleep off a couple of pre-movie scotches and woke up feeling refreshed, grateful to hear from my girlfriend's yawning, non-plussed niece that I did not miss a bit of action or disturbing spectacle. Unless you consider this fall-short effort to be a disturbing spectacle of Cronenberg losing that twisted edginess which has so endeared him to those of us in his cult following.