There are many striking similarities between this giallo and Roeg’s classic movie such as there being the death of a child, a murderer stalking Venice’s labyrinthine streets, a sex scene which is disturbed by repeated cuts away, and that these are all wrapped up together by an unnerving tone and haunting soundtrack. The interesting thing is that Who Saw Her Die? came first, and it is crazy to ignore the influence it must have had on Roeg. Whilst Don’t Look Now is the more interesting, complex and ultimately better made film, with all of its’ pieces pulling together into some nightmarish final fabric, Who Saw Her Die? survives comparisons to the classic and is a solid thriller in its own right.
First things first, the score. Ennio Morricone knows how to score a film. He is responsible for my all time favourite (Once Upon a Time in the West) and he has been duly recognised for his excellent work across a wide range of films. Given that, I think this is one of his best efforts. It’s effortlessly chilling, childlike and disturbing. Unlike Don’t Look Now where the murderer has no physical contact with the dead child, here we are dealing with a child murderer and the score’s haunting sound of children chanting therefore takes on a particular edge. The score is demonstrated pretty well in the trailer (here) if you’re interested in checking it out. Coincidentally the trailer also demonstrates one of the film’s flaws by overusing the soundtrack. It’s fantastic, but the film could have benefited from using it a little more sparingly.
The most surprising thing about this film for me, as a Bond fan, was just how much better George Lazenby was here than he is in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Long belittled as the worst Bond, and rightly so, Lazenby is famous for being the worst thing about what is otherwise one of the better entries into the franchise. He has his fans of course and perhaps they are onto something because his performance here, whilst he was never going to win an Oscar for it, is pretty good. He is convincing as a devoted father providing several sweet scenes with the young actress. Scenes that are laden with dread for we know what shall shortly happen. His grieving scenes are perfectly acceptable if not outstanding, and he holds the rest of the film together nicely in what is essentially a detective movie as he tries to track down his child’s killer.
The film’s biggest issue is its plot, it throws in a lot of random plot elements and, whilst it never looses sight of its central story, the asides do somewhat fail to allow the film to come to a neat conclusion. Looking back on the film very little of its subplots are memorable, and those that are seem to be a little meaningless. This is a film which doesn’t have a whole lot to say, it is primarily a simple thriller with a few comments strewn throughout. It therefore needed to be a little more focused and perhaps have explored the couples grief a little more, then maybe this would be a really great movie. As it is it’s a slightly above average film with additional points of interest for fans of Roeg, Bond and Morricone. I would recommend it if you can get your hands on it.
What is the film’s greatest strength? It’s score, that stays with you long after the credits have rolled.
Its greatest weakness? There are too many plot strands here… it could have used more focus.
Would I see it again? It’s no Don’t Look Now, but yes I’ll see it again.
Knock out your thoughts in the comment box below!