Saturday, January 9, 2010

Performance (1970)


Written by Donald Cammell
Directed by Donald Cammell & Nicolas Roeg

Chas...James Fox
Turner...Mick Jagger
Pherber...Anita Pallenberg
Lucy...Michèle Breton

Chas, a London gangster and sexual sadist, goes against his boss's wishes and involves himself in the business takeover of Joey Maddocks, one of his childhood enemies. In retaliation for his involvement, Maddocks and three of his associates attack Chas in his apartment, beating and torturing him. Chas manages to get the upper hand, locating a hidden handgun and killing Maddocks.

Despite the fact that the killing was at least partially in self-defense, Chas finds himself on the run from his old gang, the result of insubordination and being viewed as a "wild dog". He goes into hiding in a bohemian basement apartment owned by former rock star Turner (who stopped playing when he 'lost his demon') and his two lovers Lucy and Pherber.

Initially the relationship between Chas and Turner is icy at best--Turner represents the direct antithesis of the brute force, tough guy machismo that Chas had been a representative of in his now-abandoned career--but things eventually change as Chas is introduced to hallucinogenic drugs and lets his Freak Flag Fly.

The performances were rock solid all around, and Mick Jagger impresses as an actor as well as a musician. Fans of the Rolling Stones will want to run out and find this movie immediately, and even if you're not a huge Stones fan, I dare you to witness Mick Jagger's solo blues performance here and not be amazed. It's a precursor to Samuel L. Jackson's lightning-fueled styling from the under-appreciated Black Snake Moan.

To call this film a mind-fuck would be an understatement. Making heavy use of the Cut-Up Technique, strange camera angles, and a plethora of underground film effects, it was difficult at first for me to become immersed--it was all a little too jarring. But once the initial shock wore off, I began to sink deeper and deeper into this bizarre, dirty little world of sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll, and violence that has more layers than I have the time (or intellect) to discuss. Suffice it to say that it can be viewed as a dream-like commentary on sexual relations, personal identity, reality Vs. un-reality, madness and sanity, and a whole lot more.

Much of the imagery and editing gave it a beautiful but definite surrealistic feel that could be compared to the films of Alejandro Jodorowsky, but the seedy criminal aspects, coupled with the ambiguous ending, also drag it into the realm of David Lynch.

If one of Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters was doing an impersonation of Guy Ritchie doing an impersonation of Andy Warhol, this movie could very well be the result.

In other words, you might love it and you might hate it...but you know you wanna see it.

View the trailer below!

Rated R
105 Minutes
United Kingdom

"Nothing is true. Everything is permitted."

HorrorBlips: vote it up!


  1. I used to have the 8-track (!!!) soundtrack to this film, "Memo from T" was such a great song.

  2. Cool film with wonderful cinematography from Nicolas Roeg, who would go on to direct WALKABOUT and Bowie in THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH. If you get a chance, catch Truffaut's FAHRENHEIT 451: it's a provocative adaptation from the Bradbury classic but Roeg's camerawork is exceptional!


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