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  • Gareth Crook

Performance (1970) - 6/10

London. Gangsters. 1970s. Mick Jagger. That probably tells you all you need to know about Performance. Well, not quite. Chas (James Fox) is our bad boy. Putting the squeeze on folks with his henchmen in an old Rover (which was probably new at the time) for his boss Harry Flowers, who’s got both an amusing name… and a problem brewing. Chas has that air of arrogance as he goes about intimidating his fellow Londoners. Destroying a fancy Rolls Royce and shaving the chauffeurs head. Smashing windows and looking dapper in a sharp suit. It’s a proto Two Smoking Barrels with the edges smoothed out. A world of smoky rooms with tasseled lampshades. Chas though prefers a more modern aesthetic… and also to stay alive when things go south with Mr Flowers. Enter Mick Jagger, who plays the pallid Turner, a “peculiar hermit” retired pop star, with a spare room in Notting Hill. All long before Hugh Grant turned up and the place got gentrified. Turner’s place is a bohemian commune. Dark rooms, candles and textiles hanging everywhere. Carpeted walls, mirrored ceilings, the place is a trippy death trap and one that Chas feels a little out of place in. Fox is pretty good. It’s a caricatured sort of role but he’s very watchable. Jagger though is less so. Even though he’s given very little to do, he’s pretty terrible, but because of who he is, he’s undeniably intriguing to watch and Chas’ amusement of Turner, plays on an interesting dynamic, “You’ll look funny when you’re 50”. It’s a largely male cast and Pherber (Anita Pallenberg) and Lucy (Michèle Breton) basically only seem to feature in order to be naked on screen as much as possible. The story is simple. Chas is hiding out at Turners from the mess he’s left behind, getting high and dressing up until he can sort safe passage out of the country. It’s quite frankly pretty daft and pointless. Director Nicolas Roeg doesn’t really do conventional, but this feels weighted down with expectation from its famous cast and confused between two story lines that are at odds with one another. It caused a bit of controversy, Warners not wanting to be associated with its druggy violence, but despite its many flaws, it’s not a bad film and deserves its cult classic status.



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