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John and Laura Baxter are in Venice when they meet a pair of elderly sisters, one of whom claims to be psychic. She insists that she sees the spirit of the Baxters' daughter, who recently drowned. Laura is intrigued, but John resists the idea. He, however, seems to have his own psychic flashes, seeing their daughter walk the streets in her red cloak, as well as Laura and the sisters on a funeral gondola. Written by
James Meek <firstname.lastname@example.org>
People want and expect different things from movies. What engages and captivates one person can just as easily displease and repulse another (see Titanic). Sometimes, a film simply doesn't register beyond the viewer's walk/drive home (this criminal offense is not exclusively a phenomenon of the 1990s in spite of the last decade's distinct dearth of memorable films). Don't Look Now, however, is a film which cannot fail to last long in the mind.
It is easy to love the film for its rare depth of character, its beautiful yet disturbing plot, the stunning Venice setting, the tender and original love scene or just for Donald Sutherland's never-rivalled wig! I am sure, however, that people find it easy to fault the film because it doesn't neatly tie up loose ends, because it is dark and depressing (the film's extensive reach encompasses death, loss, murder, blindness, religion and dwarfism) and because film-making conventions are abandoned.
The source material of Du Maurier's short story provides only a meagre framework onto which screenwriters Scott and Bryant have fleshed a stunning adaptation. Roeg's visual and emotional style of directing has never been so perfectly showcased as in Don't Look Now. How many more times can film-makers and advertisers steal (or "pay homage to") Roeg's ingenious work? Julie Christie is luminous and pulls the viewer with her through Laura's painful journey after the film's shocking opening. Sutherland's performance is stellar as well. His character, John, is like a Hitchcockian fall-guy with real personality and depth. You are swept along through the canals and narrow avenues with him as Pino Donaggio's stirring music both chills and lulls.
Films made in the tone of Don't Look Now are so rare these days. I am not an old fuddy-duddy who complains that "they don't make 'em like they used to" but am simply a slightly disillusioned film fan who wishes there were just a few more film-makers willing to take chances and not follow the dull formulaic line. What was the last film that stayed with you long after you saw it? It always sounds like a cliche when some obsessed fan tells you a film haunted them for days but Don't Look Now has a curious effect on the viewer. Its intensity grows. Different parts of the film mull around in your mind. You don't think about individual 'scenes' from the film either, you think about the situations, the people, the feelings. All of which is testament to the roundly drawn characterisation and elegant (yet not contrived) structure of the film.
If you haven't seen Don't Look Now before then you have a treat awaiting you. If you have seen it - see it again and marvel at a profound, eery, haunting, moving and beautiful film. If it disappoints you that films of such indelible and recurring substance like this are thin on the ground (Apocalypse Now, Taxi Driver and The Conversation had similar effects on me) then do not hesitate to picket the next showing of....(OUT OF RESPECT TO IMDB'S CONTENT GUIDELINES I WON'T NAME TITLE OF MORONIC HOLLYWOOD BLOCKBUSTERS AND THE LIKE)!
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