I can’t imagine a worse “date movie” than Nicolas Roeg’s psychotic 1980 masterpiece “Bad Timing: A Sensual Obsession.” OK, maybe “Cruising,” “A Serbian Film,” or “Irreversible” would be worse … WAAAY worse. But seriously, I don’t want you to underestimate how seriously f–ked up “Bad Timing” is. Art Garfunkel and Theresa Russell probably deliver their best-ever acting performances as a mutually destructive couple from hell. Russell’s character is the stereotypical slutty “crazy woman,” and Russell does play the part very well. Garfunkel plays an unctuous, controlling, co-dependent psychiatrist scumbag who, we later learn, may actually be more deranged than Russell. And, of course, there’s Harvey Keitel (the patron saint of f–ked-up cinema) playing a Viennese detective interrogating Garfunkel’s character about Russell’s suicide attempt, trying to play mind games with someone who is a master of the art. A complex, well-acted, well-written, and well-directed journey into relationship hell. It also has a great use of music, from Tom Waits to Billie Holiday to Keith Jarrett to the Who.
Here’s Roeg’s effective use of the Who’s “Who Are You” during a couple of crucial scenes:
It was released with an X-rating in the United States, due to nudity, sex, language, and extremely disturbing subject matter. The Criterion Collection had the good taste to release it on DVD in the U.S. and you can watch it for free on Netflix streaming. See it with someone you love.