don't look now
director: Nicolas Roeg (the man who fell to earth, walkabout, the witches)
starring: donald sutherland, julie christie, hilary mason, and renato scarpa
REVIEWER: lyall carter
A married couple grieving the recent death of their young daughter are in Venice when they encounter two elderly sisters, one of whom is psychic and brings a warning from beyond.
Don’t Look Now lives on in the consciousness of pop culture because of the sex scene between Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie, the films two stars. At the time it was graphic for a mainstream Hollywood film and appeared so real that rumours began that it wasn’t acted at all but Sutherland and Christie really made love.
And its a shame that this is what the film is known for because Don’t Look Now is a haunting, beautifully photographed film which deeply explores the profound effects that grief can have.
Still grieving over the accidental death of their daughter, Christine (Sharon Williams), John (Donald Sutherland) and Laura Baxter (Julie Christie) head to Venice, Italy, where John's been commissioned to restore a church. There Laura meets two sisters (Hilary Mason, Clelia Matania) who claim to be in touch with the spirit of the Baxters' daughter. Laura takes them seriously, but John scoffs until he himself catches a glimpse of what looks like Christine running through the streets of Venice.
The scene where Sutherland and Christie’s daughter drowns is relatively fast but shocking and heart wrenching nonetheless. But its the ever so slow unravelling into grief that happens in Venice alongside the strange clairvoyant blind woman which is central to the narrative drive.
Is this all there is, the film asks. Is there life beyond the grave, can we reach people on the other side? All questions that are as pertinent today as they were then.
Sutherland and Christie’s relationship, belief in it due to both their acting prowess, wonderfully ground this film. They are subtle yet commanding.
A poignant yet terrifying exploration of grief and even though it was made many years ago Don’t Look Away asks questions that need answering even today.