Bad Timing Movie 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.


Comments

Scurvy Little Spider's picture

Scurvy Little Spider

Not meaning to pick, but the orange file wasn't a subplot, as much as one more way for Alex to discover proof of Milena's perfidy. And since she was not conscious at the time of the rape, she couldn't wake up to testify about that part of it.Even though I think I see what the director was up to, I felt "dragged into confusion and chaos" without any fun or humor as compensation.I don't blame anyoe who zoned out during parts of this film. Because I'm a Keitel fan, I watched to the very last frame and while it didn't make it worth it -- it did wind up making some sense. When we are shown Keitel smirking at an empty room intermittent with the scenes that took place, we're supposed to think he's using his imagination and reconstructing.. which may be. But the last scene shows he's a cop with psychic ability, referring us back to his earlier rambling: "When I see... when I SEE..."I think I see what the director was trying to do with this film. I can't

1 year 7 months ago
Report
View Comments

Bad Timing Rating

" OK "

Rating: R, 1980

Editors Recommendations

Is The Cannes Palme d'Or Heading David Cronenberg’s Way for 'Map to the Stars'?

The Cannes Film festival is sneaking up fast. The Oscars felt like they were 8 minutes ago...

Is The Cannes Palme d'Or Heading David Cronenberg’s Way for 'Map to the Stars'?

CounterPoint Festival 2014 To Feature Hometown Return of Outkast

Next weekend's CounterPoint Festival will be the event's first year at a new 5000-acre site, featuring...

CounterPoint Festival 2014 To Feature Hometown Return of Outkast

'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' - Not Perfect, But Really, Really Fun

Superhero movies have been striving towards the almost unobtainable goal set...

'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' - Not Perfect, But Really, Really Fun

Ricky Gervais is "Hooked" on David Brent Again - Former Paper Merchant To Return

A return for David Brent has been mooted ever since the character was wheeled...

Ricky Gervais is

This Labor Day, Jay Z Is Bringing "Made In America" To Downtown Los Angeles

Jay Z and the Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti have announced that the rapper’s...

This Labor Day, Jay Z Is Bringing

Anna Wintour wants 'more exclusive' Met Ball 2014

The editor-in-chief of US VOGUE magazine is reportedly determined for the annual...

Anna Wintour - Anna Wintour wants 'more exclusive' Met Ball 2014

'Mrs Doubtfire' Sequel Will Be Made 21 Years After The Original

The comedy classic 'Mrs. Doubtfire' is reportedly set to return to the big-screen...

'Mrs Doubtfire' Sequel Will Be Made 21 Years After The Original

'Of Mice And Men' Brings Out Broadway Talents Of James Franco, Chris O'Dowd

Of Mice And Men premiered on Broadway last night, giving critics a chance to cast...

'Of Mice And Men' Brings Out Broadway Talents Of James Franco, Chris O'Dowd

Sofia Vergara On Her Menage a Trois in Woody Allen's 'Fading Gigolo'

Sofia Vergara has been speaking about her nerves at shooting a ménage a trois with...

Sofia Vergara On Her Menage a Trois in Woody Allen's 'Fading Gigolo'


More recommendations