Bad Timing

"Good"

Bad Timing Review


Nicolas Roeg's Bad Timing is often remembered by fans as a forgotten masterpiece and an unfairly censored classic, but has 25 years muddled their perception of a film that's really an experimental curiosity at best? Check out the new Criterion DVD and judge for yourself.

Bad Timing tells an extremely simplistic story: In Vienna, psychologist Alex Linden (Art Garfunkel) meets a mysterious blonde named Milena (Theresa Russell) at a party, and soon they strike up an affair. Eventually she turns up in the E.R. What happened? A detective (Harvey Keitel, attired and styled as the obvious model for Pulp Fiction's Vincent Vega) is sent in to investigate.

To hide the fact that this is all much ado about nothing (well, very little), Roeg cuts the film together so it's impossible to figure out what's going on until midway through the film. (Once you get there, you shrug -- "That's it?" -- and most viewers will tune out.) He also saddles the movie with subplots and side stories that never pay off: Milena is still married and her estranged husband (Denholm Elliott, the classiest thing in this movie) pops up from time to time. Milena is also under investigation by the American military, and Alex is called in to evaluate her file. Neither of these plots amount to anything. In fact, the whole government investigation thing is all but dropped midway through the movie.

Roeg was probably right to try to salvage the film this way, attempting to create a mystery with few other options left to him. But given his two leads, there's really nowhere special he could have gone. Russell is indistinguishable here than in nearly any other movie she's made, and Garfunkel, a bad actor of epic proportions, is impossible to believe as the lover of such a brazen hussy. Even Keitel overdoes it: It's impossible to believe he'd spend so much time trying to reconstruct this case (which ultimately turns out to be a question of rape), when the victim will be up and around in a few days to simply tell him what happened. Do cops in Austria have this much free time?

Roeg gives the film a unique look, and the snappy cutting at least gives it some energy. Less can be said for his penchant to suddenly zoom in on random objects in the frame (an out of focus lamp?), but as an example of what was both good and bad in 1980s filmmaking, Bad Timing is at least instructive.

New interviews with Roeg and Russell can be found on the DVD along with deleted scenes.



Bad Timing

Facts and Figures

Run time: 123 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 25th October 1980

Production compaines: Recorded Picture Company (RPC), The Rank Organisation

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 60%
Fresh: 3 Rotten: 2

IMDB: 7.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Alex Linden, as Milena Flaherty, as Inspector Netusil, as Stefan Vognic, as Foppish Man, as Amy Miller, William Hootkins as Col. Taylor, Eugene Lipinski as Hospital Policeman, George Roubicek as Policeman #1, Stefan Gryff as Policeman #2, as Czech Receptionist, as Konrad, Gertan Klauber as Ambulance Man, Ania Marson as Dr. Schneider, Lex van Delden as Young Doctor, Rudolf Bissegger as Giovanni (as Rudolph Bisseger), as Czech Consul, Ellan Fartt as Ulla, Fritz Goblirsch as Drunk Man (as Fritz Gublirsch), Nino LaRocca as Arab in Truck (as Nino La Rocca), Roman Scheidl as Angry Student

Also starring: ,

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