1970. Great Britain. Donald Cammell, Nicholas Roeg. 105 min.
Friday, November 23, 2012, 7:30 p.m.
Theater 1 (The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 1), T1
1970. Great Britain. Directed by Donald Cammell, Nicholas Roeg. Screenplay by Cammell. With James Fox, Mick Jagger, Anita Pallenberg, Michele Breton. The year 1966 brought forth a number of unforgettable, provocative films centering on masked or split identities, public and private selves, and androgynous role playing, including Teshigahara’s The Face of Another, Bergman’s Persona, Frankenheimer’s Seconds, and Antonioni’s Blow-Up. Two years later, Cammell and Roeg, aided by Frank Mazzola’s collage-style editing, offered up their decidedly sybaritic twist on the subject with Performance. A brilliant Mick Jagger plays the epicene, fading rock legend Turner, who lures Fox, a sadistic thug of the London underworld, into a demimonde of hallucinogenic drugs, polymorphous sex, and diabolical power games. Released in truncated form to an "X" rating, and derided by most major critics as “worthless,” “loathsome,” “sleazy, self-indulgent and meretricious,” the film has since been restored to bona fide cult classic status, its visual puns, verbal entendres, color symbols, and mirrored gazes often imitated in contemporary cinema. Baroque in its allusions to Borges and Artaud, Magritte and Robert Johnson, the film is “a masterpiece made from madness” (Paul Schrader). Print lent by BFI; courtesy Warner Bros. 105 min.