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Bad Timing

One of Roeg’s most brilliant and controversial films, Bad Timing provides a complex and disturbing account of a failed romance between two expatriate Americans whose paths cross in Vienna. Dr. Alex Linden (Art Garfunkel) is a research psychoanalyst at the university, and Milena (Theresa Russell) is the young wife of a middle-aged Czech army officer (Denholm Elliott). They meet at a party, where the provocative Milena taunts and propositions Alex. At first he resists her advances, but before long the two strangers embark on a passionate affair that almost ends in tragedy.

At its simplest, this is a study of two mismatched lovers. Alex is the supposedly logical scientist who seeks order and perfection in his relationship with the spontaneous, unpredictable Milena. His jealousy is matched by her belief that his only interest in her is sexual. These misunderstandings lead to Milena being critically ill in hospital and Alex under investigation as a rapist. This is Roeg’s most searing exploration of men and women in conflict, of the desire of the male to achieve dominance, of the refusal of the female to accept submission. Similar themes are also at the heart of Roeg’s new film, Two Deaths.

U.K., 1980.
123 mins.

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