Don't Look Now

Movies like this are why I love doing this project. I never heard Don't Look Now, directed by Nicolas Roeg in 1973. I like that Ebert doesn't just pick the films that everyone sort of expects - he embraces so many different genres and styles. Today's movie is a sort of horror movie, one that focuses on the creepy side of the occult. I like horror movies, but I'm always afraid to say I'm a big fan or something, since I'm so picky about the ones that I like. Anyway, because I sort of love them, I was happy to see that he gave some attention to the genre.

The film also really made me think of David Lynch, which I know is pretty film school 101 of me, but I sort of love him. There were a few scenes that really made me think of some stylistic elements that I've seen him use before (like using distorted noises). I really liked seeing that element. I'm not an expert, but the internet says his first feature was in 1977, so maybe he saw this movie and was a little inspired? It's interesting to think that, although I'm obviously not sure.

Like any horror/thriller movie, you are probably best to just go into this blind - it's more fun that way! But I'll try to keep this as spoiler-free as I can, and warn you if anything comes up. 

The film is about Laura and John, a married couple. One day, their daughter has a horrible accident and dies. They are both consumed by grief, and emotionally haunted by her death. One evening at a restaurant, Laura encounters an older couple of ladies, on of whom is blind. The blind woman claims that she can see their daughter sitting with her in the red raincoat that she would always wear. She was laughing and happy, she tells her. Laura faints, but seems to awaken having accepted her daughter's death and is much happier. John is skeptical, but soon finds himself haunted by a figure in a red raincoat, whom he follows all over Venice. 

I loved the tension that was created in this film. I'm all about tension. There were scenes that made Anthony and I gasp out loud, because we were caught off-guard by the weird images. The film isn't really in order, either, which creates more tension. Are the things we are seeing - did they happen already, or will they happen in the future? Some of the scenes we see early on do happen in the future. That sort of made me question some of the other scenes in the film. What was it that the character was seeing? Was it different than what happened in reality? I don't want to spoil these scenes, it's no fun to go into a movie with the unsettling scares taken out. I know I spoil a lot of movies here, but most of those are not so dependent on unexpected surprises and scenes.

The cool thing about this movie is that it's not one of those "intelligent and therefore boring" sort of thriller/horror movies. It keeps you engaged by showing you weird images and creepy scenes - even things that we can notice but the viewers cannot. Ebert writes of this, saying "We will see the red figure more often than he does, glimpsing it on a distant bridge, or as a boat passes behind two arches. And the precise tone of red will be a marker through the movie; Roeg's palate is entirely in dark earth tones, except when he introduces bright red splashes--with a shawl, a scarf, a poster on a wall, a house front painted with startling brilliance. The color is a link between death past and future" (Great Movies II, 130). That sense of tension, of impending doom and awfulness, really comes out here. When we can see the red raincoat and he can't, it's eerie, and that feeling that something could happen at any second really permeates everything. 
I think it's interesting that you can really analyze the different motifs and symbols of the movie as well. It gives it some more depth and something more to think about when it's over. I love to think about movies like this, because that's...well, it's what I do. What I really like about this movie, though, is that you don't have to plunge in-depth into what the colors and images mean to like it and understand it. You can puzzle out meaning, or you can sit back and enjoy the movie - or both! It's not like after you watch Mulholland Drive and you pretty much need to figure it out, less it just remains a strange mess. Ebert says this movie reminds him of M. Night Shyamalan, which is sort of crazy to me. When he wrote the essay, it must have been before he created a whole slew of horrible, stupid movies. So I don't like that comparison. I like mine, but I also like David Lynch for some reason, and the movie just gave off more of that vibe to me. To each his own, I guess. 

If you like tense, creepy movies, you really need to watch this! It's great, and I loved every minute of it. I loved that you just knew that awful or creepy things would happen, but that didn't take away from the shock and excitement when they finally did happen. Let me know if you see this movie, I really think it's great!

Have any of you seen Don't Look Now? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Links:
Ebert's Great Movie Essay on Don't Look Now
Buy it at Amazon
(the trailer for this is pretty campy looking, somehow the whole movie didn't feel like that to me)

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