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Don't Look Now (1973) - Plot Summary Poster

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Summaries

  • 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.

  • An American architect living in Venice, Italy with his wife on a getaway after the death of their young daughter, begins to question his sanity when he begins having a series of disturbing and fragmented premonitions which coincides with a series of murders in the city.

  • John and Laura Baxter's daughter Christine drowns in a lake on their English estate. They decide to move to Venice for a short time so John can work on the restoration of a historic church. Before moving down, they put their son, John Jr, in boarding school. In Venice John has lunch with Laura, who still hasn't fully recovered from the loss of their daughter. Laura helps an old lady at the next table when some dust gets in her eye. Her blind sister, claiming to be psychic, tells Laura she can see her daughter and that she is happy and close by. She also announces that John is psychic and he must leave Venice because he's in danger. Laura is happy with the revelation but John is skeptical with the elderly psychic. The couple get a call from their son's boarding school director telling them he had a minor accident. In the morning Laura travels home to be with their son. Meanwhile, John has an accident on the church scaffolding. Walking back to their hotel he sees Laura and the elderly sisters on a funeral gondola. He also sees someone wearing his daughter's red hooded cloak, the same one she wore the day she drowned. John decides to follow the gondola to find out if the sisters abducted his wife and to discover who is wearing the red cloak. A decision with tragic results.

  • A married couple grieving the recent death of their young daughter are in Venice when they encounter two elderly sisters, one of whom is psychic and brings a warning from beyond.


Spoilers

The synopsis below may give away important plot points.

Synopsis

  • John Baxter (Donald Sutherland) and his wife, Laura (Julie Christie), are a married couple whom are both traumatized one day when their young daughter, Christine (Sharon Williams), falls into a pond and drowns near their English country home.

    Several months later, John and Laura take a trip to Venice after John accepts a commission from a bishop (Massimo Serato) to restore an ancient church. Laura encounters two elderly sisters, Heather (Hilary Mason) and Wendy (Clelia Matania), at a restaurant where she and John are dining; Heather claims to be psychic and despite being blind informs Laura she is able to 'see' the Baxters' deceased daughter. Shaken, Laura returns to her table, where she faints.

    Laura is taken to the hospital, where she later tells John what Heather told her. John is skeptical but pleasantly surprised by the positive change in Laura's demeanour. Later in the evening after returning from the hospital, John and Laura engage in passionate sex. Afterwards, they go out to dinner where they get lost and briefly become separated. John catches a glimpse of what looks like a small child (Adelina Poerio) wearing a red coat similar to the one Christine was wearing when she died.

    The next day, Laura meets with Heather and Wendy at their apartment who hold a séance to try to contact Christine. When she returns to the hotel, Laura informs John that Christine has said he is in danger and must leave Venice. John loses his temper with Laura, but that night they receive a telephone call informing them that their son (Nicholas Salter) has been injured in an accident at his boarding school. Laura departs for England, while John stays on to complete the restoration.

    Under the assumption that Laura is in England, John is shocked when later that day he spots her on a barge that is part of a funeral cortege, accompanied by the two sisters. Concerned about his wife's mental state and with reports of a serial killer at large in Venice, he reports Laura's disappearance to the police. The inspector (Renato Scarpa) investigating the killings is suspicious of John and has him followed.

    After conducting a futile search for Laura and the sisters in which he again sees the childlike figure in the red coat, John contacts his son's boarding school to enquire about his condition, only to discover Laura is already at the school. After speaking to her to confirm she really is in England, a bewildered John returns to the police station to inform the police he has found his wife. In the meantime the police have brought Heather in for questioning, so an apologetic John offers to escort her back to the hotel.

    Shortly after returning, John catches another glimpse of the mysterious figure in red as he is leaving Heather's hotel, and this time pursues it. Meanwhile, Heather has slipped into a trance and upon coming out of it beseeches her sister to go after John, sensing that something terrible is about to happen, but Wendy is unable to catch up with him. John follows the elusive figure to a deserted palazzo, and having cornered it, realizes (way too late) that the strange sightings he has been experiencing were premonitions of his own death. The "child" in the red raincoat that John has been seeing is NOT the ghost of Christine, but is actually a killer dwarf whom is responsible for all of the murders happening in Venice, and the dwarf kills him by stabbing him in the neck with a butcher knife. As the killer escapes, John sees his whole life flash before his eyes for several seconds as he dies. Laura, Heather, and the police arrive on the sceen too late to save John or to aprehend the killer dwarf whom has claimed John as her latest victim.

    The final shots of the movie show Laura along with her son, and the two sisters on a funeral barge traveling to a local church for John's funeral... just as he visioned it on the day before his own murder.

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