Bad Timing: A Sensual Obsession

Movie Information

In Brief: It’s hard to imagine now, but when Bad Timing: A Sensual Obsession came out back in 1980, it was a very big deal. The film was the talk of the film publications of the era. Not only was it Nicolas Roeg’s first film since The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), but it was the film widely perceived as the best shot to finally make Art Garfunkel a movie star. (After all, Roeg had gotten miraculous performances out of Mick Jagger and David Bowie.) And then came the film itself — a grimly unpleasant story about two unlikable people in a bad relationship, all built around the question of whether or not the woman (Theresa Russell) will survive a suicide attempt for which the man (Garfunkel) may or may not bear some responsibility. It’s essentially a deeply trashy story — one ultimately boasting a pretty high “ick” factor — made into an interesting cinematic experience by Roeg’s approach to the material in a non-linear manner (a kind of jigsaw puzzle where the line between truth and unreliable memory is blurred). Though hardly original to Roeg, it was the filmmaker’s favored approach. Interestingly, it originated with Richard Lester, most notably with Petulia (1968), a film that Roeg was the cinematographer on. (This can hardly be coincidental.) Bad Timing was never going to be a hit — it’s amazing anyone ever thought it might be — but it remains one of the most fascinating works of a generally underrated filmmaker.
Genre: Drama
Director: Nicolas Roeg
Starring: Art Garfunkel, Theresa Russell, Harvey Keitel, Denholm Elliott, Daniel Massey, Dana Gillespie, William Hootkins
Rated: R

Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will present Bad Timing: A Sensual Obsession Friday, April 22, at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library).  Info: 828-273-3332,

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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