It’s probably safe to say that if you are reading a website called Psychotronic Cinema, you’ve already seen Don’t Look Now—and seen it numerous times. Given that, this review will be relatively short. It’s still a total masterpiece, and probably the best British horror movie ever made, it famously shared a double bill with The Wicker Man, but it’s a far less goofy film than that, and a truer artistic statement. Nicolas Roeg, who directed it, was at the peak of his powers, and his run till around the mid ’80s is as good as any director could hope for.
The performances from Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie play a married couple who have recently lost their daughter in a tragic drowning accident, turning in performances that are some of the best work they ever gave in their long and varied careers. On one level it’s an occult thriller, but it’s also a rather profound drama about grief and the effect the death of a child has on parents. There is, of course, the legendary sex scene between the two of them—was it for real? Warren Beatty, who was Christie’s boyfriend at the time, wanted it cut from the film. One of the Paramount executives claimed he could see Sutherland’s penis “moving in and out of” Christie, Sutherland’s publicist actually had to release a statement dispelling the rumours. It was trimmed slightly for the US cut, but passed uncut in the UK.
With its fragmented nature, the editing is still far ahead of its time. Still, the film never loses its narrative focus due to experimentation, which just shows the skill underpinning Roeg’s vision. The film’s editor, Grahame Clifford, said Roeg described the film as an “exercise in film grammar.” Roeg’s use of colour is spellbinding, especially how he employs red. It’s no coincidence that back when Roeg was a cinematographer himself, he shot The Masque of the Red Death for Roger Corman, a film in which the use of red is equally extraordinary.
There is so much else you can write about Don’t Look Now, but there are numerous books, so let’s get to the disc. All the previous interviews and commentary from Roeg are ported over, but some newer features have been created. These include interviews with admirers of the film, such as David Cronenberg, Guardian critic Peter Bradshaw, producer Stephen Woolley and, for some reason… Brad Bird, who adds NOTHING to the discussion. Many of the same talking heads reappear in a featurette dedicated to the use of colour. The film has had a big new 4K restoration, so it probably looks as good as it ever will. There is a boxset with a UHD disc, two Blu-Rays, and the haunting Pino Donaggio score.