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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Don't Look Now (1973)



Reviews and Comments

Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now is a troublesome movie for me to review. On the one hand, it is a skillfully edited horror film that evokes the uncanny sense that great horror is imminent, just around the corner perhaps. It does a great job at conveying what the characters feel, whether that is love, pride, anguish, or panic.

On the other hand, the characters are only as interesting as what happens to them, and the plot is weak beyond description. I would forgive a weak but stylishly told story, except that the ending is actively dissatisfying. It spurns promises made earlier by neglecting to answer questions that need answers, answering questions that should not have been answered, and posing new questions. It's a shame to see such skillful execution in service of a story not worth telling.

Don't Look Now is much treasured by those with a passion for what powerful, emotive things can be done with the medium of film, and indeed this is what prompts me to give it a mildly positive rating. But while it may be a great exercise, I shun the idea that it is a great film and only reluctantly acknowledge that it is a good one. With few exceptions, movies are basically about entertainment. Don't Look Now commits the cardinal sin of not just being unsatisfying but betraying the plot threads that guide us through most of the running time. I recommend the movie only to enthusiasts of the medium and only as an exercise in expressionistic horror rather than as a story.