Nicolas Roeg's chilling film, based on a short story by Daphne du Maurier, follows a married couple as they attempt to recover from the death of their young daughter. John Baxter (Donald Sutherland) and his wife, Laura (Julie Christie), are staying in Venice in an attempt to find relief after the drowning of their daughter, Christine (Sharon Williams), in a tragic accident. However, the city appears to have an unfortunate effect upon the grieving John, who begins seeing a red-coated figure who resembles the dead child flitting around the local canals. The couple also happen across a pair of sisters who claim to have had visions of their daughter. According to the sisters, the child has been trying to contact John in an attempt to warn him that something terrible is about to happen...
Don't Look Now
was filmed in 1973 and based around a Daphne Du Maurier novel. Directed by Nicolas Roeg, it has lost none of its chill: like Kubrick's The Shining
, its dazzling use of juxtaposition, colour, sound and editing make it a seductive experience in cinematic terror, whose aftershock lingers in daydreams and nightmares, filling you with uncertainty and dread even after its horrific climax. Donald Sutherland plays John Baxter, an architect, Julie Christie his wife: a well-to-do couple whose young daughter drowns while out playing. Cut to Venice, out of season, where the couple encounter a pair of sisters, one of whom claims psychic powers and to have communicated with their dead daughter. The subsequent plot is as labyrinthine as the back streets of the city itself, down which Baxter spots a diminutive and elusive red-coated figure akin to his daughter, before being drawn into an almost unbearable finale. Don't Look Now
is a Gothic masterpiece, with its melange of gore, mystery, ecstasy, the supernatural and above all grief, while the city of Venice itself--which thanks to Roeg and his team seems to breathe like a dark, sinister living organism throughout the movie--deserves a credit in its own right. Not just a magnificent drama but an advanced feat of cinema. --David Stubbs