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24 September 2014
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Performance
15Performance (1970)

updated 04 May 2004
reviewer's rating
5 out of 5
Reviewed by Jonathan Crocker
average user rating
4 Star


Director
Donald Cammell
Nicolas Roeg
Writer
Donald Cammell
Stars
James Fox
Mick Jagger
Anita Pallenberg
Michèle Breton
Ann Sidney
Stanley Meadows
Length
105 minutes
Distributor
BFI
Original
1970
Cinema
07 May 2004
Country
UK
Genre
Classic
Crime
Web Links
Official site


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Average star rating: 4 from 135 votes

Mick Jagger? In a Brit gangster classic? Believe it. And believe that Performance is much, much more. Uncorked in 1970, it's a shocking crime thriller, a time-capsule of Swinging 60s London and a fizzy intellectual headtrip all whisked into one astonishing film. Jagger is Turner, a reclusive rock star who's lost his mojo. James Fox is Chas, a vicious mobster hiding from his employers in Turner's Notting Hill house. In the mind-altering events that follow, Chas and Turner swap women, drugs and, finally, identities...

We're talking hedonistic stuff here: sex, drugs, violence, rock'n'roll, ideas, style. On both sides of the camera, too. Fox, Britain's freshest rising star at the time, was so disturbed by his experience that he failed to act again for nearly a decade. Jagger's artistic slump started soon after. And 20th Century Fox couldn't handle the finished movie either, delaying its release then hacking it apart in the editing room. As Turner explains, "The only performance that makes it, that really makes it, is the one that achieves madness."

"FASCINATING PSYCHEDELIC WHIRLPOOL"

And so it goes. In this strange, dark London underworld, Turner, his women (Anita Pallenberg, Michèle Breton), and Chas play dangerous, erotic mindgames, while brutal mob bosses slowly track down their boy. Thanks to co-directors Nic Roeg (later to helm the eerie classic Don't Look Now) and Donald Cammell (the film's mentalist/genius brainbox), dazzling yet disturbing images and ideas bleed into every frame. They don't always congeal into something meaningful, but it makes for a fascinating psychedelic whirlpool.

Performance can even claim feature the first fully-formed music video, and it's no surprise to find that its extraordinary visuals have been borrowed from by flashy cult-wannabes as recently as Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels. So, are you ready for this Performance?

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