Definitely not a masterpiece, but very far indeed from a complete failure, Nicholas Roeg and Donald Cammell's Performance is some of the best and the worst that the cultural ferment of the late 1960s has to offer, containing within its quite forward-looking surreality the seeds of its pretentious demise. Completed in 1968 but then put to slumber in the vaults for two years before Warner Bros. finally decided to unleash it upon the world, the film starts off as a sort of Brit gangster flick with Cahiers du Cinema aspirations before morphing into a free-form experiment in dualism and perspective.

It's not hard to see why the studio couldn't decide what to do with Performance, as it seems quite perfectly clear that not even the filmmakers knew what to do with it. Also, probably having wildly touted the feature film debut of Mick Jagger, the suits must have been none too happy at sitting through almost an hour of Cockney thugs spouting impenetrable slang in footage that has none too solid a grasp on A-B-C linearity. To make things worse (or better, depending on your point of view), when the Mick does appear, he's playing a cadaverous, moony visionary given to quoting Jorge Borges and having three-ways with the two continental Band-Aids sharing his falling-down London home. And there's not even any Rolling Stones on the soundtrack.

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