Don’t Look Now – Review (Spoiler Free)

Dont Look Now Movie PosterShortly after the death of their child, John and Laura (Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie) are called to Venice by John’s work where he is overseeing the restoration of a church. The dark avenues and lapping water set the scene for a truly unnerving and evocative film, as the couple are haunted by the memories and the guilt surrounding their little girl’s death. Although Don’t Look Now keeps its traditional ‘scare moments’ few and far between, and for that reason is far more effective,  it is the  film’s atmosphere which is most remarkable and scary. It caught me out, it seemed so subtle at first, but once the couple are in Venice a feeling of dread and horror builds and builds until you really don’t quite know what to expect, and you feel that you can’t even understand exactly what you are watching. The film’s focus is on its characters, and that’s great, but there are few films which utilise their setting as well as Don’t Look Now does.

Aside from the two performances given and the atmosphere created, it’s the editing that’s also particularly praiseworthy. It’s not only used and controlled very well, but it’s also part of the film’s narrative. I would even argue it’s an important plot device, but some may disagree. Regardless,  Roeg supposedly regarded Don’t Look Now as his exercise in film grammar and that really shows; every detail whether it is the use of sound, colour motifs, or recurring images, they are all worked for their maximum potential and contribute significantly to the film’s effectiveness.

Although arguably still most famous for its sex scene, there is a lot more to this film than the question of whether the actors did it for real. I wasn’t that taken with the film at first, but towards the end I started to really get involved with it, and afterwards it haunted me and I couldn’t quite shake it out of my head. One re-watch a couple of days later and I had become quite the fan. If you haven’t seen this then I strongly recommend that you get hold of it soon. It’s arguably a little dated in places, but in others it’s still razor sharp and it doesn’t really suffer from its age overall. It’s a film that’s a little different to your average horror film, but if you go in expecting a focus on characters and are aware that it isn’t a slasher, then I can’t imagine you would regret spending your time with this one.

Tap out a comment below and let me know what you think!

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17 comments

  1. Natalie P · · Reply

    Interesting review 🙂 I would definitely agree with the use of the setting being an important strength of the film, it gives a certain impact to the plot – especially with the focus on water. What do you think to the short story that it’s based on? Hope you liked my “tapped” out comment 🙂

    1. Cheers Natalie 😀
      Yeah water is used so effectively here, which is one of many things that the short story doesn’t do. Overall I think it’s a good piece of writing in general but it has nothing on the film, really the movie improves upon it in pretty much every way.

    2. I do indeed like your tapped out comment!

  2. I haven’t heard of this film before. It sounds interesting; I’ll have to check it out. Nice review.

    1. Cheers man, I really hope that you do get a chance to see it. It would be interesting to hear your take on it!

  3. Great review. I’ve wanted to see this one for so long! I’m a huge fan of the book – Daphne Du Maurier is incredible at building suspense and tension in her novels and short stories. If you haven’t read the Don’t Look Now collection, I’d definitely recommend it!

    1. Thanks, I hope you won’t be disappointed when you do see it!
      I’ve read this short story but nothing else that Du Maurier has written. I enjoyed it, although I actually rate this film higher. It will be interesting to see how you feel about the film considering you are such a fan of the book.
      I certainly will try to check out some more of her work, thanks 😀

  4. Nice review! I’ve never had the chance to see this picture. Sounds like its worth a watch for sure!

    1. Oh absolutely! The direction and editing alone makes it worth seeing. Thanks!

  5. Excellent review, that opening sequence with the girl in the red coat is so chilling.

    1. Yeah I knew what was going to happen but… man was that effective. And then the scream cut as well just after that. All very good stuff.
      Cheers Vinnieh!

      1. Totally agree about the scream cut, also the way Sutherland lets out that bloodcurdling cry is super creepy.

        1. Yep the whole scene is highly effective. Also the cuts between Sutherland and Christie to the kids and then back I find to be fascinating.

  6. Great review, man. I’ve been really looking forward to seeing this one. Hope I can do that soon.

    1. Cheers! I hope you enjoy it 😀

  7. I agree with your take on the film. I thoroughly enjoyed watching it.

    1. Yeah it’s really good isn’t it 🙂 I also felt that it was great for re-watching as well, it didn’t have the same impact a second time around but there were interesting things to observe knowing how it all pans out in the end. Thanks for commenting!

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