Wednesday, April 10, 2013

DON'T LOOK NOW (1973) - Nicolas Roeg

If they ever organize an official Movie Memorabilia Museum (kinda like Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown), I nominate the "little red mac" from Don't Look Now to be placed somewhere between Indiana Jones' bullwhip and George Clooney's rubber-nippled Batman & Robin suit. Never has a child's rain slicker been given so much symbolic weight, done so much heavy lifting as a recurring visual motif in one film. By the ending shock reveal, the coat's practically become a religious icon unto itself. And this is a movie with a lot of icons, a lot of churches already

It's also got that infamous Julie Christie-Donald Sutherland sex scene, the one intercutting shots of them passionately making love with ones of the couple lazily getting dressed for dinner afterwards. It's been duplicated many times (by Soderbergh at least once) but never bested. It may not be the hottest sex scene on film, but it's one of the truest. It says: "This is what sex looks like when you're on vacation, when you're married and you're STILL in love."

Sutherland and Christie's trip to Sinister Venice isn't much of a getaway. Blind ladies with ESP hounding them with prophecies at every bistro. Dead, waterlogged bodies being pulled from stagnant canals. A killer on the loose. Reminders of their dead daughter everywhere they turn, especially when they turn to one another. Don't Look Now! Let's just say it's a "working vacation." And, judging from the nasty fall off the church the scaffolding that almost does Sutherland in, one with very little OSHA oversight. People talk about Don't Look Now's steamy bedroom scene, but take another look at the tension created through judicious cutting in that scaffolding scene. Roeg proves he knows how to cut for suspense, not just mood. Rosemary's Baby, The Shining, Don't Look Now. As far as supernatural thrillers go, he's batting with the best.

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