Sunday, March 19, 2017

Jeff's #94: Don't Look Now

#94: Don't Look Now (Nicolas Roeg, 1973)

It's been a busy week and a busier weekend, so I didn't get a chance to re-watch my next two selections like I had planned to do so.  They aren't as fresh in my mind, but I'll still try to get a few thoughts down for each.

DON'T LOOK NOW, like most of Roeg's best films, is widely praised for its disjointed and provocative editing style.  And it deserves it - the editing is rapid but wholly fluid and dynamic.  It meticulously builds unease and heightens the film's themes of interconnected time.  It's funny though, in general, I tend to be fairly repelled by hyper editing.  Especially in modern films, I find it can be sloppy and distracting.  Too often filmmakers ruin the intimacy and emotional build of a scene with unnecessary cuts.  There are, of course, a few exceptions here, with Edgar Wright's films coming first to mind as perfect examples in modern film of hyper editing done right.   DON'T LOOK NOW's edits are not nearly as fast or spliced as you'd find in one of Wright's films, but they are both used with a sure-handed sense of purpose.  They don't take away from scenes, they enhance them.  Wright's edits often generate brilliant fodder for laughter, just as Roeg's edits build a sense of uncertainty and deja vu.  There's a sly joke hidden in every Wright montage; a hazy revelation of death hidden in every one of Roeg's.

This sense of death being revealed to us and the film's protagonist at every cut (and down every misty alley) is one of my favorite aspects of DON'T LOOK NOW.  I sometimes wonder when watching it if there is really no daughter at all.  Instead, the red ball, the rain jacket, the spilled paint, and the hooded red figured are all just uncanny manifestations of death - reminders that it resides in everything.  And instead of watching a story of this couple's grief unfold, we are witnessing one man's sub-conscience grief as it wrestles with the nature of its own impermanence and mortality.

Stats:  Nothing much to report.  Only Roeg film on here.  Only one featuring Sutherland or Christie, but DOCTOR ZHIVAGO and THE DIRTY DOZEN deserve mention.


  1. Great pick. Can't wait to rewatch this!

  2. I saw this again recently. I like it but it sunk a little. I can't explain it. It's beautiful and genuinely chilling at times. I have a hard time connecting with Roeg's style.

  3. I hear ya. If I didn't think the style augmented and enhanced the narrative/themes, I would be more turned off by it. I've seen a few of his other flicks (WAKLKABOUT, THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH) and think they are fine but the style is alienating. Just think it found the perfect match in this material.

  4. Don't get me wrong, I like it a lot. But it fell for me for some reason.