Don’t Look Now Screen 15 articles

Don’t Look Now

1973

Don’t Look Now Poster
  • It begins promisingly enough, so promisingly that you're likely to give it the benefit of every doubt as it winds its circuitous and beautiful way through the canals of Venice, until gradually you become aware of glaring inconsistencies and the suspicion grows that you've been royally had. The ending is obviously meant to make everything fall into place like a religious epiphany, but instead it exposes the fraudulence of earlier incidents and clues whose significance you had taken on faith.

  • Time has tamed some of the terror and eroticism of Don't Look Now, but it's still a haunting thriller about guilt and the supernatural... [But] 25 years after its release, Roeg's most precisely constructed film seems a bit weighed down by its predictable narrative. Its scariest moments—the glimpse of that small, red-coated figure disappearing into a doorway, or the soft sound of its sobbing before the final confrontation—are more powerful remembered than when they appear on screen.

  • Synchronistic editing style seems especially dazzling today, when every single art film eschews montage for mise-en-scène; Roeg and editor Graeme Clifford employ rhyming cuts that function almost like double-tracked vocals, deriving power from the sense of same-but-different.

  • It's hypnotically brilliant as it works remorselessly toward a sense of dislocation in time; an undermining of all the senses, in fact, perfectly exemplified by Sutherland's marvellous Hitchcockian walk through a dark alley where a banging shutter, a hoarse cry, a light extinguished at a window, all recur as in a dream, escalating into terror the second time round because a hint of something seen, a mere shadow, may have been the dead child.

  • A frightening and consistently inventive horror story (1973) that poses a none-too-original question—are things ever what they seem, or never what they seem?—and answers that both alternatives are perfectly true. Nicolas Roeg directs with a cameraman's eye for eerie detail and cuts his baroque images into a bizarre montage of past, present, and future tenses. It's busy on the surface and empty in the center, but somehow it works.

  • [It's] arguably Roeg’s most compassionate film... More than a crisply told ghost story, Don’t Look Now is a film that explores the ways in which we so easily misread the obvious signs towards happiness as we go on with the business of living. In most of his films, Roeg treats this very human tendency with bleak fatalism, but here it seems almost heroic.

  • Easily the most successful film adaptation of a Daphne Du Maurier story (sorry Hitch!), Don't Look Now is both a chilling horror film and a fascinating portrait of grief. The film's remarkable dreamlike textures evoke a present constantly slipping into memory.

  • Complete with drowned children, a blind seer, an intimidating clergyman, and an impressive gushing of blood (to say nothing of its surprisingly graphic and sentimental sex scene), Don’t Look Now manipulates the conventions of the horror genre while it adds its own peculiar sense of foreboding.

  • Roeg uses Daphne Du Maurier’s short story as a masterly procession of uncanny set-pieces, with the color red materializing variously as Poe’s Masque of Death, a tiny Red Riding Hood figure scuttling in dark hallways, a blot spreading malevolently over a photograph... Arguably the subtlest giallo ever made, it’s a film to heighten the senses.

  • It isn’t just the notorious sex scene that proves Sutherland is a capably desirable leading man in Don’t Look Now. Throughout the film his character evinces an adoration for his wife that is remarkably authentic and immensely appealing—important since so much of the film consists of Sutherland searching for her in the echoing nighttime streets of Venice. Without this grounding, in fact, it’s unlikely the film’s horrific, bizarre final tragedy would register as devastatingly as it does.

  • The editing (not only of image, but intricately of sound) is pointedly showy to the extent that even casual viewers will notice its contradictorily fluid yet jagged dexterity. It's meant to be violating, because we're supposed to feel as if we're slightly apart from the story. The filmmakers forge an aura of hushed dread that's nearly unrivaled in cinema, painting the city as a chicly knotted Escher madhouse of labyrinthine curves and potentially dangerous inhabitants.

  • Don’t Look Now retains its power and mystery today thanks to Roeg’s mastery of what Alfred Hitchcock famously called “pure cinema,” manifest in his visual sleight of hand and above all in his refusal to be bound by the conventions of dialogue-driven narrative and simple chronology. All this has shaped a style that has justifiably come to be described as “Roegian.”

  • Superimposing intricate, baroquely subliminal symbol-patterns and glazed, death-masque motifs on hoary gothic thriller conventions, it feels like a Hitchcock film that went missing in Venice and whose remains were dredged up by divers from the canals. Newly available in a gorgeous Blu-ray edition (including some bare-bones but agreeable making-of interviews), if there were an award for the eeriest, clammiest atmosphere ever committed to film, Don’t Look Now would belong on the shortlist

  • I know viewers who find it slow, who chafe at the dialogue-free stretches and absence of chances to laugh, which means that it’s become the kind of director’s-movie treasured by cinephiles and formalists above all else. But couldn’t go without its way of spooking you. Tense and ambiguous to the end, its suspense and entrapment hit the sweet spot, where it leaves just enough said and unsaid to be both lucid, coherent, and aimed directly at the subconscious.

  • Roeg makes brilliant use of Venice’s architecture and design, rendering the city a fantastic, maze-like world. (The eerie, mood-enhancing score is by Pino Donaggio, who would go on to be Brian De Palma’s regular composer.) The leads are superb, playing off each other brilliantly and sexily; the film’s centerpiece is a complexly edited sex scene that aroused no small controversy upon first release.

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