Director Nicolas Roeg
Starring Julie Christie, Donald Sutherland
Film ***** Extras ***
Nicolas Roeg’s dazzling occult thriller follows the efforts of grieving couple John and Laura Baxter (Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie) to recover from their daughter’s drowning death by heading to – irony alert – Venice. Sutherland and Christie (both terrifically naturalistic) are also shadowed by a blind clairvoyant who insists she’s in touch with their daughter from beyond the grave. Roeg builds a potent sense of dread, culminating in a shocking climax guaranteed to instill you with a lifelong fear of small people in shiny red macs.
The most significant extra on this Special Edition is a Roeg commentary, in which the director frustrates with his meandering and occasionally baffling conversational style. Patient prodding by film critic Adam Smith wrings out a few nuggets, but mostly Roeg sounds like he’d rather be scraping gum off the pavements outside instead of sitting in a DVD commentary booth, resulting in a painfully protracted listening experience. Still, Roeg’s recalcitrance doesn’t detract from his film’s unsettling and enduring genius.