Visually dazzling, finely acted investigation into such diverse matters as identity, sexuality, violence, power, and underground culture in late 1960s London.
James Fox stars as Chas, a sadistic petty gangster who has trouble fitting in, even with his hoodlum cohorts. Chas gets into trouble with boss Harry Flowers (Johnny Shannon) after Chas carries out a murder for personal--as opposed to business--reasons, and hides out in the basement of "retired"
rock star Turner (Mick Jagger) while he waits to skip the country. Turner has secluded himself in the house in order to lament the loss of his powers of "incantation," which seems primarily to mean that he indulges in a lot of drug-taking and sex with two female companions (Anita Pallenberg and
Michele Breton). Soon, Turner senses a connection between Chas's brutally violent nature and his criminal "performances" and Turner's own dried-up creative powers, and he draws the young hood into his world. Introduced to hallucinogenic drugs, Chas begins wearing androgynous clothes and even
admits he is sexually attracted by Turner, before the mob shows up again and things turn sour.
Uneven, dated, and--at least during the first half-hour--too frantically paced, PERFORMANCE is nevertheless a haunting meditation on human identity from co-directors Donald Cammel and Nicolas Roeg (Roeg had previously worked as a cinematographer on films including FAHRENHEIT 451 and FAR FROM THE
MADDING CROWD). Questions of role-playing, imagery and individuality are explored in uniquely visual terms, particularly by the directors' intriguing use of mirror shots. Mick Jagger's performance is a pleasant surprise, and his presence in the film accounted for most of the limited commercial
success it enjoyed at the time of its initial release. PERFORMANCE has since become a much-discussed cult classic. Originally released with an "X" rating in the U.S., the film was subsequently re-edited and re-catalogued as an "R."
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- Rating: R
- Review: Visually dazzling, finely acted investigation into such diverse matters as identity, sexuality, violence, power, and underground culture in late 1960s London. James Fox stars as Chas, a sadistic petty gangster who has trouble fitting in, even with his hoo… (more)