February 7, 2006
Tom Waits’ “Invitation to the Blues” plays over the opening credits of Bad Timing (1980) and this establishes the melancholy mood of a movie that explores the rise and fall arc of an obsessive relationship between a man and a woman in an unflinching manner that cause so much controversy that it severe distribution problems in England because of the way it dealt frankly with notions of sexuality.
A woman (Russell) is rushed to a hospital. She is in a coma from a drug overdose. With her is a man (Garfunkel) who’s not her husband or a family member. What’s the story between these two people? Soon, Inspector Netusil (Keitel) arrives to question the man about the women and how she overdosed. The man is evasive and vague and Netusil knows that he’s hiding something. Bad Timing explores the tumultuous relationship between the woman – Milena Flaherty – and the man – Alex Linden – via flashbacks that begin, appropriately enough, with how they first met – at a dinner party flirting with each other.
Milena is a wild, free spirit not afraid to speak her mind and is intensely uninhibited. Alex finds this thrilling because he is distant, the detached demeanour of his profession – a psychoanalyst. Initially, everything is fine and they get along quite well. Director Nicolas Roeg does a great job of showing the euphoria of a budding romance – the coy flirting, getting to know the other person, talking late into the night about everything and the growing intimacy between them. It’s all depicted realistically and the two leads are completely believable.
As he did with The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), Roeg employs a masterful editing technique, cutting from the past to the present and back again with each flashback revealing a bit more of the puzzle that is Alex and Milena’s relationship. She seems insecure and questions his love for her. She compensates for this insecurity by drinking too much and pushing herself to emotional and physical limits.
Looking at her fearless performance in Bad Timing begs the question, what the hell happened to Theresa Russell’s career? After this movie she appeared in numerous forgettable efforts. She is not afraid to expose herself emotionally and physically if it is right for the character. Russell creates a complex character and Alex is never able to get a handle on what makes Milena tick. He wants all the thrills that she can provide but does not want to deal with the consequences. He wants to get as far away from her overdose and the subsequent fall-out as he can.
Roeg shows how fragile relationships between two people can be and how easily they can fall apart. The deeper Alex gets into this relationship, the more he realizes the less he really knows about Milena and her past. He’s a controlling person and she will not be tamed by him or anyone else and it is this opposition that attracts and drives them apart.
“Trade Secrets: Nicolas Roeg and Jeremy Thomas” is a 28 minute featurette with these two men as they talk about their movie, how it came together and even the origin of its title and what it means. Roeg also briefly touches upon some of his movie’s themes and how he cast the actors in their roles.
“Theresa Russell” is a fascinating interview with this actress. It was the first time she worked with Roeg and she talks about how she got the role. She loved the script and went for it despite her agent urging her to audition for Superman (1980) at the time. Russell is very eloquent on all the topics she discusses, including her own career and how this movie fits into it.
Also included are 16 deleted scenes that flesh out more details of the relationships between the characters. They are quite good and it would’ve been nice to know why they were cut.
There is a theatrical trailer.
Finally, a “Gallery” is included with stills from the movie, posters from all over the world and behind the scenes photos taken on the set.