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Bad Timing

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1980

Bad Timing is a 1980 psychological thriller directed by Nicolas Roeg. The film stars Art Garfunkel as Alex, a respectable psychiatrist working in Vienna, Austria; Theresa Russell as Milena, his enigmatic lover; and Harvey Keitel as Detective Netusil, a policeman investigating the sudden hospitalization of Milena.

The story unfolds in a non-linear fashion, jumping back and forth in time as various characters recount their experiences leading up to the events that landed Milena in the hospital. The film is shot in a stylistically experimental manner with a series of flashbacks and flashforwards, which at times can be difficult to follow. It is also a deeply disturbing and emotionally charged film, exploring themes of obsession, desire, and trauma.

The story opens with Netusil arriving at the hospital to question Alex about Milena’s condition. Alex, who had been out of town attending a conference, is unaware of the situation and is visibly shaken by the news that Milena is fighting for her life. The film then cuts back to Alex meeting Milena at a party, and the two embark on a tumultuous and destructive love affair. Milena is a free-spirited woman prone to excessive drinking, indulging in drugs and promiscuous sexual encounters. Alex, on the other hand, is emotionally reserved and refuses to be drawn into the same kind of reckless behaviour.

As the story progresses, the audience is drawn deeper into Alex and Milena’s dysfunctional relationship, as they become more and more consumed by their obsessions with each other. Milena’s self-destructive tendencies escalate, and Alex struggles to keep up with her erratic behaviour.

One of the standout elements of Bad Timing is the fantastic performances from the cast. Art Garfunkel, more well known as a musician than an actor, delivers a restrained performance as the troubled psychiatrist Alex. Theresa Russell, who was only twenty-two at the time of filming, gives one of the most unforgettable performances of the film as the deeply troubled Milena. Harvey Keitel, who plays the investigating officer, adds to the tension with his blunt and unsympathetic portrayal of Netusil.

Nicolas Roeg, the director, deserves praise for creating such a visually striking film. The sequences in which Alex and Milena meet and the period of the film in which they are together are all shot with vibrant colours and rich textures. The camera work is inventive and creates an immersive experience for the viewer. The entire aesthetic of the film both reinforces and draws the attention of the viewer towards the disintegration of the main characters' relationship. The pace of the film, mostly propelled forward by the non-linear storytelling, creates and maintains tension throughout.

Overall, Bad Timing is a film that excels in its performances, its unique and effective editing, and its study of complex human emotions. However, it is not a film for everyone - there are several scenes of an overtly sexual nature and the story can be confusing at times- but for those who enjoy psychological thrillers, Bad Timing is definitely a worthwhile watch.

Bad Timing is a Mystery, Drama, Thriller movie released in 1980. It has a runtime of 122 min.. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 6.9..

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6.9/10
Director
Nicolas Roeg
Stars
Art Garfunkel, Theresa Russell, Harvey Keitel, Denholm Elliott, Daniel Massey
Also starring Theresa Russell
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