Video Review

Sense and Sensuality on the Bridge of Sighs: Don’t Look Now

Note: The following is the second of two movie reviews I’m doing for Maddy’s “Horrorathon” that she is hosting on her site, “Maddy Loves Her Classic Films”. Okay, that’s a bit of lie, in that I’m not actually putting this one together. Since I’m busy packing things up for another weekend in a cabin in Broken Bow, Oklahoma, I have asked Scotch the Cat to take over the narrative responsibility. He initially declined, but we eventually reached a compromise when I explained, once again, that I control the pantry door wherein are kept his sacred kitty treats. I must be kept happy or the portal will be forever sealed. Scotch then resigned himself to his fate, fixed himself a nice cup of catnip tea, and began typing…

Hi Peeple With Two Legs,

I’m here to tell the story about a movie we watched today called “Don’t Now Look”. It happens somewhere that is not here and there’s lots of water and I think somebody died and-

[Sounds of disruption and urgent relocation.]

Dear Reader,

Please excuse the ineptitude of my brother. I knew it was a terrible mistake when Our Father inexplicably assumed that my wretched sibling was capable of providing any type of cultural insight whatsoever. Scotch is a complete dolt, as evidenced by the fact that he can’t even get the name of the movie right. Before he could finish banging out the second sentence of his dismal failure, I knew I had to intervene. (It was quite simple, really. I mentioned that a bird had been spotted in the backyard. He aborted his malignant mission and raced off, hyperventilating and drooling, mind mad with desire. It will take him at least three hours to discover my mendacity.)

My name is Cleopatra. I’m the other cat here at Bonnywood. I am rarely mentioned, because that’s the way I like it, as detailed in the contract I forced Father to sign upon my arrival. Father and Scotch can frolic all they want in Blog Land. I normally don’t have time for such pursuits, as I prefer to engage in more esoteric matters of a less-base nature, such as the perusal of fancified celluloid. In fact, I have a doctorate in Filmic History and Interpretation. (Father would know this if he wasn’t so self-absorbed.) As such, it is my moral compunction to rectify the atrocious banality of my insipid brother’s review. We shall start again.

“Don’t Look Now” (it’s only three words, Scotch, how did you fail so miserably in the alignment?) is a 1972 film directed by Nicolas Roeg. He is worshipped in certain circles for his oeuvre, a limited collection of films that are truly unique in their composition. They are purposefully non-linear, with flashbacks and flashforwards that force the viewer to pay attention. I find this much more engaging than most cinematic “blockbusters” where the entire story is blatantly telegraphed from the opening scene. (We’ve all seen enough “movies” that mainly involve car crashes and scantily-clad nymphets undulating on the hood of said cars before they crash. Surely you want more out of life.)

This film features Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie, at a time when Donald’s star was firmly in ascendance and Julie’s star was still admirably glowing from her work in the 60s. They are both in peak form, as a married couple dealing with the aftermath of a life-changing event presented in the opening scenes. Their chemistry is palpable, especially in an extended montage concerning an overtly-lusty romp in a hotel room (prepare yourselves accordingly) wherein Roeg’s mastery of the fluidity of time is in full evidence.

As an aside, I should point out that there are two other stars of this film. One is the city of Venice, Italy. I’m not sure this story could have worked in any other locale, brimming as the city is with its wetness and beautiful decay. (Proper credit for this location choice should be given to Daphne du Maurier, who penned the original story.) The other standout is Donald Sutherland’s hair. It’s unruly, immense and intimidating, and I must caution you to accept its presence and move beyond such; otherwise you will miss important plot devices as you gaze in wonder, and considerable fear, at his coiffure.

This film is, after all, a horror mystery, albeit one that is filled with stunning location shots and lyrical imagery that is hypnotic and intoxicating. You quickly learn that you can never fully trust what you are seeing, yet you must also unlearn that point of view when the dominoes begin to topple and the story comes full circle. The ending montage, with more of that time fluidity, is a justifiably famous example of art in motion.

Please give it a look, won’t you? Now, I’m off to find Scotch, my challenged brother. If I don’t remind him to feed himself, he’ll starve. And really, isn’t that an accurate reflection of so many troubled souls in modern society?



(Also known as Cleo by my close friends, but you and I aren’t quite there yet. Watch a few more decent movies and get back to me.)


If you have the time, please drop by Maddy’s site and enjoy the Scary-Movie themed reviews and articles she has coordinated for her “Horrorathon”. The actual blogathon doesn’t start until the 26th, but you can find more information and a list of the upcoming blog pieces by clicking here.

Personal side note to Christi: THIS one.


23 replies »

  1. Dear Cleo and Scotch,

    You are two brave kitties indeed to be watching this horror classic. I do hope you are both over 18! Cleo, you summed up the film brilliantly and you (I didn’t think it was possible)have made me want to see it again (I don’t know why as it scares me so much). Donald’s hair was immense, it truly deserved a film all of its own 🙂

    You both deserve lots of treats and a nice rest after watching this film. Thank you for taking part in my blogathon. You really must let your paws write on dads blog more often!


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Cleopatra. I do hope you will feel compelled to write again, soon.

    I hate it when an actor’s features, such as Mr. Sutherland’s hair, steal focus, don’t you? You have reminded me of a Barbara Streisand movie. The name eludes me, but not the memory of her fingernails! Which even managed to upstage her magnificent profile.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maggie,

      I always feel compelled about everything. It’s just one of my many endearing qualities. I shall strive to focus more on my literary endeavors, assuming that I can convince Daddy to leave the room so I can pounce on this laptop. (He refuses to allow me ownership of my own device, the horrid beast.)

      As for La Streisand, I believe you a referring to one of her features christened “Nuts”, wherein we are subjected to glowing closeups of her digits. Please advise if I have erred.


      Liked by 1 person

  3. Cleopatra: Thank you so much for the film recommendation! Tell your father I agree, this one sounds right up my alley. I shall hunt for it immediately.
    On a side note, I think you and Merricat would get along splendidly, though she’s more into music than films. Perhaps you’d like to discuss soundtracks with her?

    Liked by 1 person

    • C.J.’s Comment, Part Two: Saw the film (available for 3.99 on Amazon Prime) and very much appreciated it. In fact, I watched it two days ago and I’m still thinking over bits of it, which is the mark of a great film in my book.
      As for the sex scene, actually that whole section from the time she’s in her bath to the time they leave for dinner, it was beautifully written, filmed and acted. And flashing away during it to show them getting dressed, what a brilliant move! Had they not done that, the scene would have been almost pornographic.
      And the ending, OMG, the ending! The flashbacks, the funeral boat, the flashes of red, OMG, it was perfect!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am SO glad you liked it. I almost didn’t include the personal footnote, finger paused above the “submit” button, but I took the chance. I knew in the end you would appreciate a smart movie done well. I love so much about this movie, and the 20 or so minutes leading up to and through the steamy montage is sheer brilliance (the innocent way things developed into physicality, the precise editing and, most importantly for me, the realness of the loving looks they give one another). The ending is fantastic, especially on subsequent viewings, the blink-or-you’ll-miss-it clues throughout are delicious, and the time-slips seal the deal. But oh, to be in love in Venice, with the ruined finery and a blind woman who sees…

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I find it disturbing that Donalad looks so much like Kurt Vonnegut in that picture.

    Equally disturbing that for an entirely other (consultant of capitalistic enterprise) reason I sat in chair for six hours learning how to manipulate blogs/websites/Facebook. Brevity and humor and/or conflict. Which I already learned from my friend at Little Fears ( Did I say they mentioned referrals 712 times? In the first hour? And in a blog this long you only dropped four? When you could have backstoried every Scotch post and any cat ladies/men, the Oklahoma Tourism Board, the place you’re staying, tagged it to Facebook with a cute personal picture of yourelf with a kayak you’ve never seen before, and asked for the same in return? Brevity. Humor or conflict. Referrals. With a personal touch.

    Liked by 1 person

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