Bad Timing

Bad Timing

classified 18 PS

The Balance of Things: the Cinematic Imagination of Nic Roeg


Please note: This was screened in July 2019

Nicolas Roeg
Art Garfunkel, Theresa Russell, Harvey Keitel, Denholm Elliott
123 mins, Partially Subtitled, 1980, UK
Primary language
 English | German | Czech | French

Set in Cold War Vienna, Bad Timing opens as Milena (Theresa Russell) is rushed to the hospital by her repressed psychiatrist lover Alex (Art Garfunkel) following an apparent drug overdose. A detective (Harvey Keitel) tries to piece together the circumstances that drove Milena to suicide, uncovering, with the rigour of a forensic autopsy, the toxic history of Milena and Alex's torrid affair, which became a disturbing labyrinth of sexual obsession and monstrous misogyny.

Employing the director's signature, fragmented editing style at its most elliptical, Bad Timing is Roeg's most controversial, unflinchingly and uncomfortably misanthropic film punctuated with profoundly upsetting revelations that appear designed to invite (if not outright incite) outraged reactions from its audiences. Even the film's own distributor, the Rank Organisation, denounced Bad Timing as "a sick film made by sick people for sick people." It's gone on to be recognised as one of director's most powerful films which goes to show you never can tell.