Directed by Nicholas Roeg.
Starring Kelly Reilly. Miranda Richardson, Rita Tushingham, Donald Sutherland, Oscar Pearce, William Houston. 120 mins
What do you do when the talent has gone? It’s there almost effortlessly and then imperceptibly it slips away. The result is something like the deadeye spectacle of Vic Reeves moving as if mummified through his light entertainment engagements, mystified but hopeful that if he performs the old rituals perhaps the genius might be re-summoned.
I’m not sure if I actually enjoy any of the six startling movies that Nicholas Roeg directed in the seventies and early eighties (indeed I actively dislike Bad Timing and most of Performance) but I know for sure that some quality of magic left his films after Eureka and ever since then he’s been trying to recapture it.
Now he’s returned with his first feature in 12 years (since Full Body Massage, a philosophical examination of Mimi Rogers’ chest), a version of a Fay Weldon novel, adapted by her son Dan. It says something for the mess that’s been made of it that I really can’t imagine what the book is like; indeed I have only scant idea of what the film is like. It’s even worse than its title.
It looks horrible and dated, like an ITV filmed on location drama from the seventies. (The seventies feel is emphasised by all the male characters resembling Peter Firth – or, given the curly locks, Peter Powell.) To be precise it feels very much like an episode of the Hammer House of Horror TV series. A young couple move into a cottage in the Irish countryside only to find themselves menaced by mad old rural types and their witchcraft.
Yet it isn’t really a horror film. I’m not sure what it is – there’s far too much mumbo jumbo claptrap about Norse gods and hexes and magic potions and fertility rites to take it seriously. Puffball the Tragic Dragon’s Eye. The cycle of life and birth are the main themes. The couple are trying to do up their cottage. There is a general aimlessness to it, like they’d all got into it only to slowly forget what the original point was. Donald Sutherland’s brief role consists of him twice popping in to say hello, have a quick look around and then wander off again.
They called the wrong film Don't Look Now.