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United Kingdom 1973
Directed by
Nicolas Roeg
111 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Don't Look Now

Venice is a perfect setting for this atmospheric adaptation of a Daphne Du Maurier short story about a young grieving couple (Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland) whose only daughter has drowned. The pair go to Venice to escape the pain. The husband, John, buries himself in his work restoring the frescoes of a church whilst Laura meets a pair of  English tourists, Heather (Hilary Mason) and Wendy (Clelia Matania). The former is blind and she tells Laura that she can communicate with her dead daughter. Laura believes her and although John initially thinks that it is all hocus-pocus he gradually becomes less sure of himself.

With films such as Walkabout and Performance Roeg had established his track record as a specialist in fractured mental states. Once again he does a marvellous job in representing the experience of his grieving protagonists as they are forced to question what is real and what is not. From the get-go he takes us on their emotional  journey, making use of recurring motifs to suggest a connectivity beyond the commonsensical. This is usually the stuff of tacky horror films but Roeg’s makes it work in the context of a serious “adult” drama. It does not have the shock value of Kubrick's The Shining (1980) with which it shares some thematic resemblance but it is more impactful for all that. 

 

 

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