The 1980 film, "Bad Timing" is arguably the last masterpiece by the great Nicolas Roeg. He has of course made some fine films later, but none of them reach the heights set here, be it the characterisation, direction, or the editing - one can devote entire articles to each of the above features - so much to see and appreciate. Add to this Anthony Richmond's excellent cinematography, the eclectic soundtrack, and not least the superlative performance by actors playing the main characters - Harvey Keitel is brilliant, singer/songwriter Art Garfunkel sincere, and Theresa Russell captivating - you can see they were all 'a team' while making this film. Not often do I find it hard to describe how good a film actually is - even after second viewing, new information keeps sinking in.
About the film:
It's essentially a study of two characters with conflicting interests, in love - in retrospect they shouldn't have even met. Milena, a young American - married but carefree, meets Alex - a judgemental, possessive and older compatriot, and a visiting lecturer of psychoanalysis. Set in the Austrian capital Vienna, the film captures their mutual obsession and contradictions, and the tragic consequences. And this is done beautifully using short and sharp vignettes, flashing back and forth in time, like memory, as if 'remembering someone from the past'. Mr. Roeg gives an interesting explanation in the DVD extras for the reason behind this unique style of his - bewildering at times with those splintered edits, but which all makes perfect sense towards the end. He tells a story so succinctly, feeding audience just enough information at any given time to keep their attention - I reiterate what I mentioned in an earlier article. The film also uses symbolism to embellish its character study, notably through book titles and artworks (aptly Viennese, like Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele). Surprisingly, the film with such a controversial subject was produced by the rather conservative Rank Organisation, even if they refused to put in their gong man logo during the film's opening credits.
I'd readily recommend the NTSC Criterion Collection DVD over any other version for the sheer quality of transfer and the loaded extras. There is an absorbing interview with the great man Nic Roeg himself, and also some candid thoughts from his ex-wife and star of the film, Theresa Russell. She gives an outstanding performance as the wild orchid Milena - she's also incredibly cute and sexy! This was the first time the twenty one year old Russell had worked with Roeg, and they obviously hit it off, on and off stage. Needless to say, Highly Recommended Viewing..!
Amazon.com DVD Link
Compilation: Theresa Russell, Ellan Fartt, Dana Gillespie, and unknown actress
It's impossible to give a scene guide for this compilation that would make sense, as each of them is inter-cut with flashbacks and flash forwards - you just have to watch it. I've also inserted a couple of non-nude but sexy scenes in between, notably that of Russell and Garfunkel scene in the car when she (unintentionally) spills the schnapps she was drinking over her dress - the dialogue was not in the script but used nevertheless, and the shocked Garfunkel's expression in it is priceless. I've also edited out a few seconds of nudity that could have given too much of the plot away, especially in the final scene when Milena is raped whilst approaching coma.
Bonus Scene: Clips of Deleted Scenes from the DVD extras
A couple of deleted scenes here - they don't have sound, and have also not been remastered, for obvious reasons.