Sunday, October 28, 2007

No. 9 - Performance

"The only performance that makes it, that really makes it all the way, is the one that achieves madness," says reclusive rock star Turner (Mick Jagger) in the Nicolas Roeg-Donald Cammell head trip, Performance. This is a film that truly achieves madness.

Chaz (James Fox) is a tough London gangster who must hide out after running afoul of his boss. He takes refuge in a Notting Hill mansion inhabited by Turner, who attempts to regain his creative muse while indulging in hallucinogenic drugs with two live-in groupies. Chaz hates rock music and drugs, but he is soon lured into Turner's bizarre lifestyle. In time, Chaz takes some magic mushrooms and undergoes a personality transference with Turner. Or does he? There are as many questions as answers in Performance.

This film was way ahead of its time. It is stylistically daring, with jump cuts, flash-forwards, graphic sex scenes and even an MTV-style musical sequence by Jagger that verges on the surreal.

Roeg would go on to direct such 70's classics as Walkabout, Don't Look Now and The Man Who Fell To Earth. Roeg enjoyed using rock stars -- Jagger here, Bowie in Man Who Fell To Earth, and Art Garfunkel in Bad Timing (released in the 80's, but it feels like a 70's film).

Performance expertly captures the tough underworld of London gangsters and the indolent, decadent life of a has-been rock star. The two worlds collide, and identities converge and separate.

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