March 5: Performance

Thursday, March 5 2020 | 8PM Performance Great Britain 1970 d. Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg with James Fox, Mick Jagger, Anita Pallenberg, Michèle Breton, Ann Sidney and John ‘Biffo’ Bindon. Colour. 115 m

“Roeg’s debut as a director is a virtuoso juggling act which manipulates its visual and verbal imagery so cunningly that the borderline between reality and fantasy is gradually eliminated….Ideas in profusion here about power and persuasion and performance (‘The only performance that makes it, that makes it all the way, is one that achieves madness’); and the latter half becomes one of Roeg’s most complex visual kaleidoscopes as pop star and enforcer coalesce in a marriage of heaven and hell (or underworld and underground) where the common denominator is Big Business.” Tom Milne

The movie is a facile enough pastiche of underground pyrotechnics and Euro-art pretensions, but far more evocative now is the fast, offhand repartee between the principals. (According to production accounts, the movie had strong aspects of psychodrama, with various participants playing versions of themselves.) Frequently naked, even as she keeps changing her outfit, the then 24-year-old Pallenberg is a stunning creature. Her sexual insolence and petulantly garbled line readings give a mocking edge, seldom encountered outside the Warhol factory, to her erotic scenes with Fox (who evidently had a Christian conversion as a result of the movie). J. Hoberman

Links: IMDB Wikipedia

See Also: Thoroughly Modern Millie (Hill, 1967), Invocation Of My Demon Brother (Anger, 1968), One Plus One aka Sympathy for the Devil (Godard, 1968)

Series: Winter 2020 :: Nicolas Roeg 70>80