Nicolas Roeg directs Julie Christie, Donald Sutherland and Hilary Mason in this Venice set chiller about a young couple haunted by grief and psychic visions after the death of their daughter, based on a short story by Daphne Du Maurier.
One of my all time favourite films. I love the use of colour amongst the drab, decaying Venice cityscape; the palpable tension of not being able to communicate between generations, nationalities and the grave when life and death seem at stake; the elliptical editing suggesting the fractured nature of both movie storytelling and time itself; that gorgeous yet melancholy lovemaking scene between a tender committed couple; and the bursts of psychosexual violence that discombobulate the plot and the viewer. Roeg keeps us constantly on edge, even on your hundredth watch, where you know the painful inevitably of what is playing out. It all coalesces into a brilliant puzzle I love getting absorbed into, full of heartbreak and mystery. Julie Christie is superb as the lost mother, vulnerable and desperate to believe in something. While Sutherland is eerily evocative as the rational man trying to ignore the horror he keeps glimpsing in the corner of his eye. For all the masterful disorientation and the sinister atmosphere what makes Roeg’s finest film a true masterpiece is the warmth he instill between the two movie stars on the top of their game. Their chemistry seduces you so much that even without serial killers and tragic visions you’d quite happily watch two hours of Christie and Sutherland getting ready to go out for a meal in their chic 70s attire.