Classic Review – Don’t Look Now (1973)

don't look now

Don’t Look Now

Directed by Nicolas Roeg

Starring Donald Sutherland, Julie Christie, Hilary Mason

Review by Jordan

I’ve often argued that when it comes to art, grief is the most powerful emotion to convey. Love, hate, hope and regret will all strike a chord with any audience, but grief and devastation are feelings which reverberate the longest, and one need look no further than Nicolas Roeg’s impactful, thematic masterpiece Don’t Look Now for proof of this.

Based on a story by Daphne Du Maurier, Don’t Look Now introduces us to John and Laura Baxter (Sutherland and Christie) who travel to the labyrinthine city of Venice, where John is tasked with restoring an iconic Cathedral, after the tragic drowning death of their young daughter. The love the two share is beginning to reach its height once more, and they are making strides in coping with their loss, when a run in with a psychic and her obscure sister threatens to send their lives spiralling into unwanted territory once more. Laura befriends the sisters, who claim to be communicating with her apparently happy and smiling daughter, but John doesn’t believe, and it is apparent that either his stubbornness, or her vulnerability, will have tragic consequences.

The plot of Don’t Look Now is deceptively intricate, but in itself is not the most important aspect of the film. As a viewer what we are made to focus on is the philosophy of time, and how an event of devastating significance can at first create a splash, and then a ripple which extends into the future. Are we seeing the ghosts of past disasters, or the physical horrors of the present? And how are these separated? Being lost in time is made far more treacherous when lost in a strange city also. John and Laura traverse the canals and brick streets, separated from their son who remains in a boarding school and becoming separate from each other as they take hold of their differing methods for coping with their newly renewed grief, disguised as acceptance.

Nicolas Roeg is one of the great underappreciated directors of all time. As well as Don’t Look Now he has helmed the Mick Jagger cult curio Performance (1970), Walkabout (1971), The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) and the fantastically creepy The Witches (1990), so it really is a compliment to suggest that this is his defining moment. Often billed as a horror movie, Don’t Look Now really defies categorization, and should be referred to simply as ‘essential.’

Happy Grieving.

5 cathedral mosaics out of 5

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16 responses to “Classic Review – Don’t Look Now (1973)

  1. It’s easy to forget what a fantastic actor Surherland was. Such wonderfully subtle performances in ‘M.A.S.H.’, ‘Johnny Get Your Gun’, ‘Animal House’, ‘Ordinary People’, ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’, and of course ‘Don’t Look Now’.

    Nice choice, and great review.

  2. HBA Welcome Wagon…

    Wanted to let you know, you part of the Alliance. Please stop by and check to make sure your link is correct. Remember to say Thank You and feel free to visit the other HBA Members.

    Also if you have “CAPTCHA” on, you might want to turn it off… people hate it, okay I hate it.

    Jeremy [Retro]
    Visit The Madness:
    Oh, No Let’s Get CRAZY!
    HBA Curator

    • Hi Jeremy
      All looks fantastic on our end in regards to links ect. We are super excited to apart of the great alliance you’ve got going on.
      We llok forward to checking out everyone else’s thoughts and ponderings on all things horror and hope we can be a valuable member of the community 🙂

      Happy reading 🙂 (Eddie)

  3. Heya Jordan and Eddie, thanks for liking and following screenwalker.wordpress.com I appreciate it that you enjoyed my Pacific Rim review.

    Don’t Look Now is a very good horror (or thriller) film. Not the most terrifying experience, but it is very interesting, has a great casting and is also pretty chilling at times. It really goes into the realms of grief and psychological agony the characters experience. I should see this film again, it has been almost four years since I last saw it.

  4. Pingback: Top 250 Tuesday #138 – Don’t Look Now (1973) « Durnmoose Movie Musings·

  5. Pingback: 10 Classic Movie Scenes: Jordan’s Take | Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)·

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