The Horror Honeys: "Bad Timing": A Possessive Man. An Independent Lady. Garfunkel's Balls.

"Bad Timing": A Possessive Man. An Independent Lady. Garfunkel's Balls.

A Revenge Honey Erotic Thriller November Review with Linnie

Bad Timing (1980)

Prior to diving into Erotic Thriller Month, there are a few things I never imagined myself saying. One of those things is, "an erotic thriller starring Hugh Grant," and you will never hear me talking about Bitter Moon again. But the other is, "an erotic thriller starring Art Garfunkel," and the difference here is that Nicolas Roeg's Bad Timing is one of the strangest, creepiest, and most intriguing erotic thrillers I have ever seen.

From the visionary director of erotic horror film Don't Look Now, The Witches, and Walkabout, Bad Timing is an art house erotic thriller, and with the exception of exposing me to Art Garfunkel's balls against my will, it is a film that I won't be able to get out of my head for a long time.

The Story: We open on a hospital in Vienna, where a young woman has been brought in after overdosing. The man with her doesn't seem to have much of a connection to her, arousing the suspicion of a local detective (Harvey Keitel). As the detective questions the man, we are introduced to their relationship via nonlinear flashbacks. Milena Flaherty (Theresa Russell) is a free spirit, partying and dating her way through the city. Alex Linden (Garfunkel) is an American psychology professor, who meets Milena at a party and begins a tempestuous relationship with her. What follows is a fascinating psychological study of what happens when two polar opposites enter into a relationship with entirely different expectations of what it means to be together.


If you are a fan of Don't Look Now, you kind of know what you are getting in to with Bad Timing. However, while the eroticism of Don't Look Now was based in a combination of love and grief in the context of marriage, the eroticism of Bad Timing comes from a much darker place. Even in moments of levity and affection between Milena and Alex, you can feel that something is deeply wrong. Milena is always on the verge of completely breaking down, while Alex is consistently trying to turn her into someone she isn't. It's a recipe for disaster and the tension that builds through every scene is at times, unbearable.

What a bombshell, this one.
The performances in Bad Timing are remarkable, even from Art Garfunkel, which is again, a sentence I'd never imagine myself saying. The entirety of this film, however, belongs to Russell, who commands every scene she is in. Whether she's being coy, sexy, or manic, she's a force of nature, and one of the best-written female characters I've seen all month. Milena is never one-dimensional, even when she might be driving you crazy. Because she's never less than herself, and Russell plays her to perfection.

This... is not erotic. At all.
As Bad Timing builds to the inevitable confrontation, one that you both do, and somehow can't possibly, see coming, all of the moments of quiet that proceeded it will feel like a blessing. Because the end is so dark, and so upsetting, that you may never look at Art Garfunkel the same way again. Which is to say, he did a fantastic job. And coupled with Roeg's phenomenal and singular editing style, this a film that will haunt you as much, if not more so, than Don't Look Now...

Another sentence I never imagined myself saying.

Throughout Erotic Thriller month, we are going to be working on a far more stringent rating scale than usual. That means that if I REALLY like a film, it will probably get a three star rating. If I love a film, four stars. If I want to take a movie behind the middle school and get it pregnant, that's a five star rating right there. So with that in mind, Bad Timing gets:

Erotic Thriller Rating: 5 respectful tips of the hat out of 5

Bad Timing is available via iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, & Criterion DVD

Would you fall for the Garfunkel?
Tell me why on Twitter: @linnieloowho