First released in 1973 to give an entire generation a phobia of red raincoats, Don’t Look Now is restored in all its squirmy, permy glory.
Based on Daphne du Maurier’s short story, this psychological thriller follows a grieving couple who decide that the best way to get over the death of their child by drowning is to go Venice of all places – and right in the middle of murder season. John (Donald Sutherland) is restoring a church while Laura (Julie Christie) meets a blind woman (Hilary Mason) who claims to be psychic, foreseeing that John’s life is in danger. Which is now true of everyone in Venice. She didn’t see that coming.
Nicolas Roeg’s striking, motific use of colour truly pops in this 4K restoration of a horror film about a restoration, though it’s not about that. Nor is it about the spate of Venice murders, as peripheral as John’s fleeting glimpses of his daughter. Don’t Look Now is really about sight (hence the witty title), perception and grief, the latter unnervingly realistic in its portrayal: John and Laura think they’re moving on when nothing could be further from the truth, and their strong relationship unravels like spaghetti.
Apparently Venetian officials were afraid the movie would scare away tourists, so haunting is its use of the city’s famous canals, narrow alleys and old bridges. Reflections, water and footsteps echo around the film, its impressionistic editing and sound designed to disorientate the viewer and mirror John’s scarred psychology. A staunch rationalist, his unflinching trust in what he (thinks he) sees leads him down one dark alley too many and leaves you questioning whether seeing is believing or if there’s more than meets the eye.
Known for its shock ending and long-thought real sex scene, Don’t Look Now shares with Brian De Palma’s work a gorgeous Pino Donaggio score (his first) and a penchant for raincoats. What’s unique however is its fluid, almost circular sense of time, making memory, premonition and paranoia indistinguishable from one another to create one of the most disquieting pictures of all time; a feast for all six senses.