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Don't Look Now Review

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After the tragic death of their daughter, Laura and John Baxter take a trip to Venice in an attempt to save their marriage. While there they encounter a strange couple of old ladies, one of whom claims to have second sight. Meanwhile, John catches a glimpse of a figure in a red coat, as Venice is terrorised by a serial killer.

★★★★★

Few films can as efficiently induce an attack of the screaming heebie-jeebies as Nicolas Roeg's classic supernatural thriller. Based on a Daphne du Maurier short story and made in 1973, it's one of the most haunting, enigmatic and, in the final moments, bloodily shocking movies ever made - and it showcases, in Roeg, one of Britain's most distinctive voices who, sadly, was reduced to tatty American TV mini-series and, last year, a documentary about Claudia Schiffer.

It's difficult to pin down exactly what makes Don't Look Now so effective. From its opening, in which we witness the sudden drowning of the Baxters' daughter (brilliantly shot with pre-Steadicam hand-held by cinematographer Anthony Richmond), the film starts to creep into the subconscious. Images of water permeate the movie; red is associated both with overwhelming grief and danger. Shattered glass and empty dining rooms are equally regular symbolic motifs, while Venice, deserted and wintry, is a suitably chilly setting for the enigmatic riddle.

But, if the technical feats of the movie are impressive, it's Sutherland and Christie who give the movie its mournful, deeply moving heart. They're a heartrendingly believable couple struggling to survive the pressures that the tragic loss of their daughter has put on their marriage. The infamous sex scene, intercut with their post-coital getting ready to go out, all to Pino Donaggio's poignantly lyrical score, remains the single most brilliantly realised erotic sequence in cinema. And the ending is still as much of an horrific jolt as it was nearly three decades ago, managing to terrify and move simultaneously - more than you can say for Claudia Schiffer.

Along with Peter Weir's Picnic At Hanging Rock, made two years later, Don't Look Now is one of the definitive mystery chillers of all time. Poignant, beautiful and devastating.