Thoughts on Performance

Roeg and Cammell’s Performance (1970) is a film that I often come back to, usually caused by concern or reflection towards my roles in life and the persona I adopt. Good reasons to re-watch a film that is, let’s be honest, bloody amazing.

– most times that I dip into the narrative, I focus on the opening twenty-five minutes: a whirlwind of violence, masculine behaviours both unambiguous and metaphorical and stylish cutting that on first viewing is disconcerting (but will become addictive). The 2nd half of the film is much different: the scene’s presenting Chas’s disintegration is a subtler, stoned out process that somehow seems to zip along, working us out in a completely different way.

– the best reason I can offer for “An Evening at Powis Square” gliding in this way, between Chas’s mushroom tea and his 11pm call to Tony Farrell’s, is the character of Pherber and the spectacular performance of Anita Pallenberg. Holding the ground between Turner’s withered state and Chas’s masculinity (how she attacks him from the off!), her aggressive feminity holds the film up.

– Along with Nic Roeg’s cinematography, which does extraordinary things whilst being held within a bunker (albeit a sybaritic bunker) for 50 minutes. Four people stuck in a house together, presented as a trip, as a fevered nightmare in technicolor.

– How good a character is Rosebloom (any Joycean reference in there beyond the raincoat?). He’s basically a competent middle aged bloke who somehow found himself working as a thug; impressively cool and efficient and without the narcissistic perfectionism that Chas brings to the job. The way that he’s framed throughout, wickedly presents him as a commentary on Chas’s and his artistry.

Next time I’ll try to state what I think the cupboard under the stairs stands for.


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