Monday, 8 February 2016

Don't look now (5 Stars)

I've waited a long time for this film to be remastered and released on Blu-ray. Too long. All the previous versions had sound that was so distorted that it was sometimes difficult to understand the dialogue.Even the (supposedly) remastered DVD in 2006 had the same poor sound quality. Now it's finally been put right. This has been one of my favourite films, ever since I first saw it more than 30 years ago, and now I can finally enjoy it.

John Baxter is an architect who specialises in the restoration of old buildings. He leads a comfortably wealthy life with his wife Laura, which is disrupted when their daughter Christine accidentally drowns. A few years later they travel to Venice, where John has to restore an old Catholic church that has been eroded by the damp air. We don't see Venice as the beautiful city that was shown in the more recent film, "The Tourist". It's a cold, ugly city, where the waterways are menacing rather than attractive. Moreover, it's a confusing maze of alleys and bridges.

While in Venice they meet two elderly sisters from England. One of them is blind, but she has psychic gifts. She says that she can see Christine sitting with them, and she even describes the coat she was wearing when she died. Laura clings to this as a comfort after her loss. John is sceptical, suspecting that the sisters are fraudsters, but then he sees Christine running round the city, always at a distance. He chases Christine, getting lost in the maze, despite warnings from the blind sister that his life is in danger.

This is a beautiful gothic ghost story. The film editing might seem chaotic at first, with the camera angle constantly changing, and even events that happen at different times being alternated, but it adds to the allure of the film. I wouldn't say that "Don't look now" qualifies as a horror film, but it gives the viewer an uneasy feeling of dread from beginning to end.

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