Performance Review

A London gangster (Fox) is forced into hiding and where better to stay than in the mansion of a reclusive rock star, Mick Jagger in his most memorable role. Over time the two characters bond and learn about themselves as well as each other.

by Kim Newman |
Published on
Release Date:

07 May 2004

Running Time:

102 minutes



Original Title:


Performance, made in 1968 but unreleased until 1970 thanks to the incomprehension of its distributor, offers the twinned directorial debut of then-cinematographer Roeg, who went on to great things before his current limbo, and Cammell, who has subsequently made only Demon Seed and White Of The Eye.

An exchange of personality piece with a Krays-type gangster and a reclusive pop star (Jagger) confined in the latter's mod mansion as their characters clash and merge, this is one of those movies which rewards with repeated viewings, even if it puzzles on first acquaintance. And while there is an undoubted air of the slightly grotty sexual decadence and psychedelia associated with the era, the cinematic sensibilities here are at least calculated to outlast the moment.

Full of the fashions, music and faces of '68, this is still as fresh and disturbing now as it ever was, and there are moments — like the zoom through a bullethole into a brain — that remain unmatchably astonishing.

After Ned Kelly, Jagger needed a hit and Performance was it. Although playing a rock star probably wasn't the greatest challenge, he more than holds his own against Fox in a psychedelic classic.

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