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Review: Don’t Look Now (Blu-Ray)

DON’T LOOK NOW

reviewer: Dexter Kong
Rated: 15 (UK)
Release Date: 04 July 2011
DirectorNicolas Roeg
CastJulie ChristieDonald SutherlandHilary Mason

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In a recent poll complied by Time Out magazine, Don’t Look Now was on average, voted the top British film of all time. Good thing some thirty eight years after it’s original release, it is being re-released on Blu-Ray.

Don’t look Now follows a grieving married couple, John and Laura Baxter (Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie), who have lost their daughter in a freak drowning accident. They attempt to rebuild their lives by spending time in Venice, whilst John works on the restoration of a church. Their lives are again affected when Laura comes across two elderly sisters, one of whom claims to possess a psychic ability and tells Laura of her daughter’s disposition in the afterlife; unlocking a mental roadblock in her grieving process. John on the other hand has an unrelenting guilt for his daughter’s death, which he can’t let go of and imposes this untoward a similar figure he sees roaming the streets of Venice.

For those who haven’t seen Don’t Look Now, the figure of a small child wearing a red raincoat should still be an iconic figure. It is this striking use of wardrobe which is instantly recognizable and due to the nature of the finale, is instilled with the embodiment of  horror. It is this coat, in which we find John Baxter’s daughter drowned in a rather symbolic fashion, that becomes the snapshot memory John has placed upon his child and one which shatters his life.

Red raincoat + water = avoid.

Don’t Look Now’s interesting use of non-linear editing delivers an unsettling tone as images are juxtaposed against one another and adds to the journey of possible madness and premonition that John is going through. Whilst the sound design crosses over from scenes and is replaced with similar sounds to create a somewhat disorientating atmosphere, though to great effect.

Nicholas Roeg’s approach of John’s need for forgiveness is well in depth,  John’s dealing with the church and the Cardinal in the restoration comes across something which has no emotive, but as an element of forgiveness in exchange from some form of higher entity. Whilst his wife upon meeting the cardinal after hearing of her daughter in an afterlife seems incredibly grateful upon kissing the cardinal’s ring. Perhaps this is what so strengthens John’s belief that his daughter has been granted some form of ressurection as he sees the figure of the red coat.

But, it is the understanding of the ending which wraps this film up as a very good piece of work. Everything we’ve been lead on becomes unveiled and we are filled an unabashed realisation of stupidity, as your mind flicks over every previous frame and you grasp the true nature of events. It is an existential murder mystery. For a modern audience the pacing may come across as labored, but it is well worth for this intelligent horror which is a puzzle of events that must be pieced together.

The special features on the Blu-Ray edition feature Danny Boyle’s cut down version of the film (for those of you who are not so adept at concentrating for periods over an hour), a making of feature and director’s commentary. It does also feature a nicely creepy but somewhat misleading title menu.

Movie Rating: 4/5

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