Don't Look Now

Critics poll
127 th
Directors poll
91 st

Don't Look Now

Year: 1973 Country: United Kingdom / Italy
Featuring Julie Christie / Donald Sutherland / Hilary Mason

Introduction

Set in off-season Venice, British director Nicolas Roeg’s tragedy combines an acute study of grief with a supernaturally charged thriller plot, to beautiful and devastating effect.

“A movie whose every glorious frame is bursting with meaning, emotion and mystery, and which stands as the crowning achievement of one of Britain’s true iconoclasts and masters of cinema.”
David Jenkins, Time Out poll of 100 best British films (Don’t Look Now was voted number one)

Based on Daphne du Maurier’s short story, Don’t Look Now opens with the death of a child, but the tragedy is that of her parents, John (Donald Sutherland) and Laura Baxter (Julie Christie). Relocating from the English countryside to wintry Venice, where John is restoring artwork in a church, the couple try in their different ways to recover from the loss. There is tension between them, as she falls in with two peculiar sisters – one a blind clairvoyant – and he catches glimpses of a figure who resembles his dead daughter.

Director Nicolas Roeg composes an uncanny masterpiece of colour (notably red) and fractured editing, expressing the characters’ psychology and experience to stunning effect. The sex and death scenes have seldom been matched.

Roeg had earlier experimented with complex editing in Performance (1970) and Walkabout (1971), while Visconti’s Death in Venice (1971) shares this film’s location and atmosphere of morbid melancholy.