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Light a candle for Christine
Don't Look Now (DVD)
Member Name: sunmeilan
Don't Look Now (DVD)
Advantages: Intriguing, visually eye-catching
Disadvantages: A little bit pretentious
John Baxter is played by Donald Sutherland, father of Kiefer. He gives a wonderful performance. His grief at the death of his daughter is breath-taking and so convincing that I found myself with tears running down my face. His later breakdown is also powerfully done. My only problem with him is an aesthetic one - his curly hair is absolutely ridiculous and it did make it hard at times to take him seriously (yes I do know looks shouldn't be important, but it really did affect my appreciation of the film). I understand it was a wig - I certainly hope so! However, it is important to remember that the film was made in 1973 and hairstyles were very different then - perhaps if you expect it, it won't be quite as painful to watch!
Julie Christie seems to be more famous for her beauty than anything else, but she actually is a good actress. As Laura, she doesn't have to portray the same emotions that Sutherland did, but she still gives a good and emotive performance as a grieving mother. We do get to see rather a lot of her in a long and drawn-out sex scene with her husband, but it is tastefully done and I'm sure that the majority of men will love it. And she certainly is very attractive. The two old ladies are played by Hilary Mason and Clelia Matania are sufficiently creepy to add another layer of intrigue to the film - until the end of the film, it is never quite clear whether they are trying to help Laura or scare her to death. At one point the psychic lady goes into a trance and sounds as though she's having an orgasm, but I'm sure that will add to the entertainment for many!
Directed by Nicholas Roeg, who also directed Walkabout, one of my favourite films, I was expecting something visually attractive. And that it certainly is. The setting in Venice and the fact that John is an architect obviously calls for some gorgeous backdrops - particularly in churches and other historical buildings. Then there is the red motif. Christine dies in a red mac chasing a red ball, flashes of which appear throughout the film. And then every time something terrible happens, a red splodge of blood appears across the screen. I have always liked the use of red in films - it is so eye-catching and conjures up so many things for me (and not all blood-related).
The way the film is made is very clever - lots of odd camera angles that add to the interest of the film, although if I'm honest, I found it all a little over pretentious at times. The sex scene, for example, flashed between them having sex and getting dressed and ready to go out afterwards. This all seemed a little unnecessary to me. Sometimes these flashes between scenes were effective though - at the beginning, we see the daughter's final actions mirrored in her father's, which makes it all the more tragic. And the visions are done well - the choppiness of the camera work adding to the creepy atmosphere.
The story is based on one by Daphne du Maurier, an author I know very well - but I haven't read this particular one. I understand, however, that the director hasn't followed the story particularly carefully. Personally I thought the story had some flaws. It isn't always clear, for example, why things are happening the way they are - there is little in the way of explanation, which leaves the viewer to make their own mind up. I'm usually quite happy to be made to think, but in this case, I was left with too many questions. Again, this adds to the feeling of pretentiousness that I got from the film - it seems at times as though the director is trying to prove how much more intelligent and forward-thinking he is than the average viewer. However, it does make more sense on the second viewing, so it may be worth giving it another try.
The film is classed as an 15 which, to be honest, I thought was unnecessary (it was originally an 18!). There are some creepy bits, the sex scene (which is quite rampant, although not particularly graphic, and we do see a couple of murders, but there is nothing that most teenagers don't see every day on the television. It certainly isn't for young children though. The special effects, such as they are, aren't all that great - the blood is so red it's almost orange - but the film was made over thirty five years ago, so that's not suprising. The quality of the DVD is good - it has certainly been digitally enhanced.
Several people have recommended this film to me, so I was really looking forward to seeing it. If I'm honest, however, I was a little bit disappointed. It certainly has its strong points - the visuals are generally gorgeous and the lead performances were excellent - but the feeling that it is a little bit too clever for its own good remains with me. However, a great deal of people obviously don't agree, so it is certainly worth making your own mind up. For me, three and a half stars out of five, recommended.
The DVD is available from play.com from £5.98.
Running time: 110 minutes
Summary: Good, but not as good as I had hoped.