Performance

  • Film
  • Drama
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Roeg's debut as a director is a virtuoso juggling act which manipulates its visual and verbal imagery so cunningly that the borderline between reality and fantasy is gradually eliminated. The first half-hour is straight thriller enough to suggest a Kray Bros documentary as Fox, enforcer for a London protection racket, goes about his work with such relish that he involves the gang in a murder and has to hide from retribution in a Notting Hill basement. There, waiting to escape abroad, he becomes involved with a fading pop star (Jagger) brooding in exile over the loss of his powers of incantation. In what might be described (to borrow from Kenneth Anger) as an invocation to his demon brother, the pop star recognises his lost power lurking in the blind impulse to violence of his visitor, and so teases and torments him with drug-induced psychedelics that the latter responds in the only way he knows how: by rewarding one mind-blowing with another, at gunpoint. Ideas in profusion here about power and persuasion and performance ('The only performance that makes it, that makes it all the way, is one that achieves madness'); and the latter half becomes one of Roeg's most complex visual kaleidoscopes as pop star and enforcer coalesce in a marriage of heaven and hell (or underworld and underground) where the common denominator is Big Business.

Release details

Rated: 18
Duration: 105 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Nicolas Roeg, Donald Cammell
Screenwriter: Donald Cammell
Cast: Anita Pallenberg
Mick Jagger
Johnny Shannon
Ann Sidney
Michèle Breton
James Fox
Anthony Valentine
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