d. Nicolas Roeg / 1980 / UK / 123 mins
Viewed at: The Box @ FACT (Liverpool, UK)
Another zinger from the Film and Philosophy course at FACT, Bad Timing is one hell of a film (in more ways than one). It’s been said – and rightly so – that this is Nicolas Roeg running a mile with Jean-Luc Godard’s maxim that ‘a story should have a beginning, a middle and an end, just not necessarily in that order’. The films of Nicolas Roeg are seemingly always about the gap between public and private performance, particularly in the lives of outsiders.
The outsider here is Art Garfunkel’s cold, calculating psychoanalyst, all at sea in the land of Freud, and completely bamboozled by Theresa Russell. The real star of the show though, is Roeg himself. I know that some people tire of films that box clever with time, but I just can’t seem to get enough, and this one is a classic that caused one reviewer to remark that it has ‘an overall style that plays merry hell with chronology’ (like that’s a bad thing!)
Anyway, I’ve also written a short piece about the role of outsiders in Roeg’s films of the 1970s, which is available on Suite101. Read it…you know you wanna. Here’s an excerpt:
“Twenty-five years after the initial release of Walkabout (1971), English film director Nicolas Roeg was asked why a film produced, as it was, by an Englishman (as opposed to a ‘local’) was nevertheless capable of providing one of the most powerful visions of the Australian landscape. His response: “I suppose I simply viewed it without preconceptions…an outsider’s eye is always the most acute.” And in many ways, this quote neatly reflects the motivations of many of Roeg’s central characters, particularly in a series of films made during the 1970s which feature individuals trapped in strange, inhospitable places. Roeg’s characters are often outsiders, certainly, but they seem unable to adapt to their new environments, plagued by obsession and stuck behind hopelessly romantic preconceptions of unattainable exotic lifestyles.”
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