Image B+ Sound C Extras C
starring James Fox, Mick Jagger, Anita Pallenberg, Michele Breton
screenplay by Donald Cammell
directed by Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg
by Walter Chaw Emerging in the middle of one of the most experimental, challenging periods in cinematic history, Performance--completed in 1968 but shelved until 1970--is a product at once ahead of its time and two years too late. Had its trippy-dippy, anachronistic cross-cutting and madly-inappropriate scoring appeared in 1968 (the year of Rosemary's Baby, Night of the Living Dead, If..., 2001: A Space Odyssey, and the film to which it perhaps owes its greatest allegiance, Once Upon a Time in the West), Performance would've found traction and good company as a foundational film for the American New Wave instead of as a picture that, for all its foment and formal revolution, seemed hysterical against a maturing, more sedate(d) mainstream avant-garde parade of stuff like El Topo, Zabriskie Point, MASH, and Five Easy Pieces.