Working with elements of the traditional horror genre - second sight, ESP, warnings from the dead, a mad killer - and a cinematography of disquieting beauty and dreamlike sense of dislocation, director Nicolas Roeg weaves a fabric of anxiety that questions all reality. The evocative use of the back streets of Venice is a sinister participant in the action based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier. This intensely erotic and macabre film boasts outstanding performances by Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland.
Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now once seemed radically new with its kaleidoscopic imagery, dreamlike editing, and willingness to let mystery be mysterious on several levels of reality/illusion--plus art-house darling Julie Christie in a long, nude love scene! Nowadays, this 1974 adaptation of a Daphne du Maurier ghost story looks almost classical. Following the drowning of their child in England, Laura (Christie) and John Baxter (Donald Sutherland) have come to dank, eternally dying Venice, where he is supervising the restoration of a moldering church and she is either slipping into or climbing out of madness with the help of a pair of creepy spinster sisters, one of whom can "see" even though blind. John may share this psychic power, though he resists accepting it as the canals fill with murder victims, surface realities turn shimmery as water, and a red-coated figure--the daughter's ghost?--keeps flickering in the corner of our vision. Though surrealand perplexing, the film does eventually add up, and the ending remains a real throat-grabber. --Richard T. Jameson
Actors: Julie Christie, Donald Sutherland, Hilary Mason, Clelia Matania, Massimo Serato
Directors: Nicolas Roeg
Writers: Allan Scott, Chris Bryant, Daphne Du Maurier
Producers: Anthony B. Unger, Frederick Muller, Peter Katz