“Don’t Look Now” (1973)
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Starring: Donald Sutherland, Julie Christie, Hilary Mason, Clelia Matania
Directed by: Nicolas Roeg
Running Time: 110 min.
Synopsis: After their daughter drowns, a couple moves to Venice where they meet a psychic who sees there dead daughter.
Mixing stylish photography, shocking twists, and eerie atmosphere, Don’t Look Now is a great horror film with tons of suspense and scares. It also has a talented cast, good story, and excellent editing.
The film stars Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie as a married couple whose daughter drowns in the beginning of the movie. The two move to Venice after the tragedy and try to start a new life. A blind woman and her sister approach the couple in a restaurant. The blind woman is a psychic and tells Christie that she can see her dead daughter and that she’s happy. Christie, who is first startled by this revelation, but later becomes very intrigued with the woman and wants to know more about her daughter in the after life.
Strange things start to happen after the meeting of the two sisters that causes Sutherland to worry about his wife’s involvement with the two. Also, murders start to happen around Venice, that worries him even more. Can the psychic and these murders have a connection?
The film has plenty of great moments and very good elements through out. First I want to point out the editing, very well done and it has an excellent rhythm to it. There’s lots of parallel action through out and it is used effectively. One part that sticks out is the beginning, when their daughter is playing in the yard and the parents are inside the house. The actions between them all match up greatly in the parallel action and the cutting of it doesn’t lose its rhythm.
Parallel action is used very well during a steamy sex scene between Sutherland and Christie as the two ravage each other between scenes of them afterward getting dressed and ready for a night out. It is also used well in moments of flashbacks. When a body is pulled out from the river in Venice, Sutherland looks on and a quick cut of him pulling his daughter out of a pond is shown.
There’s also a great score that’s very haunting and fits the mood of the film. The cinematography and setting capture the dark and creepy atmosphere. There’s a great giallo feel to it throughout and the location of being in Venice helps it out a lot. The use of the color red is symbolized throughout, as it is shown on the daughter’s raincoat, Christie’s purse and boots, and the drink from Sutherland’s glass that spills on a picture of a person with a red hood sitting in a church.
Suspense is everywhere in this movie and makes it worth watching. The scenes are crafted very well and when they are presented in the film you know something is going to happen but you just don’t know when it will and that keeps you on the edge of your seat. It’s kind of like going through a haunted house at a fun park, you know something is going to pop out and scare you, but you don’t know when.
There’s also great moments of shock that are put together very well. One that stands out is after Christie first talks to the psychic, she passes out and comes crashing down on the floor of the restaurant, pulling the table cloth, cups, and dishes with her. The scene is done in slow motion and the sound of the glass plates breaking, echo through out. Also I can’t forget to mention the ending, which has great shock appeal, but you’ll have to see the movie to know what it is.
I have to say, a lot of the characters are very creepy and shady. From the two sisters, to a priest, the people at the hotel where the couple stay, and even the guy at the embassy, all look like they’re up to something. Also the only minor compliant of the film is they are some parts that drag a little and some places that are confusing at first, but some questions are answered through out at least.
Don’t Look Now is a stylish thriller that delivers. A very good horror film with two great talents, well crafted story, and suspense all around.