Laughter in the Dark

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Despite being transplanted from the sado-masochistic gloom of the German '30s to the Swinging London of the '60s, this adaptation of Nabokov's teasingly perverse variation on the eternal triangle is not as bad as one might expect. It's shot as a series of brief, impressionistic scenes with Monteverdi tinkling tranquilly on the sound-track: a style which works well at the beginning as the ageing art critic (Williamson, excellent) meets his cinema usherette (Karina) and finds her worming herself into his obsessions; and it serves at the end, when the critic, blinded after a lover's quarrel and believing himself alone with the repentant girl in a lonely villa, gradually realises that there is a third presence in the house, playing mocking games with him. In between times, though, the film sags horribly into all sorts of destructively non-Nabokovian vulgarities: a swinging party shot in swinging style, a surfeit of semi-nude couples cavorting on beds, etc.

Release details

Duration: 104 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Tony Richardson
Screenwriter: Edward Bond
Cast: Nicol Williamson
Anna Karina
Jean-Claude Drouot
Peter Bowles
Siân Phillips
Sebastian Breaks
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