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Bad Timing (1980)

A psychiatrist, living in Vienna, enters a torrid relationship with a married woman. When she ends up in the hospital from an overdose, an inspector becomes set on discovering the demise of their affair.

Director:

Nicolas Roeg

Writer:

Yale Udoff (screenplay)
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3 wins. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Art Garfunkel ... Alex Linden
Theresa Russell ... Milena Flaherty
Harvey Keitel ... Inspector Netusil
Denholm Elliott ... Stefan Vognic
Daniel Massey ... Foppish Man
Dana Gillespie ... Amy Miller
William Hootkins ... Col. Taylor
Eugene Lipinski ... Hospital Policeman
George Roubicek ... Policeman #1
Stefan Gryff Stefan Gryff ... Policeman #2
Sevilla Delofski Sevilla Delofski ... Czech Receptionist
Robert Walker Robert Walker ... Konrad
Gertan Klauber ... Ambulance Man
Ania Marson ... Dr. Schneider
Lex van Delden Lex van Delden ... Young Doctor
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Storyline

The setting is Vienna. A young American woman is brought to a hospital after overdosing on pills, apparently in a suicide attempt. A police detective suspects foul play on the part of her lover, an American psychology professor. As doctors try to save her life, the detective interrogates the professor, and through flashbacks we see the events leading up to the woman's overdose; her stormy and intensely sexual relationship with the professor, her heavy drinking and numerous affairs, and her estrangement from her Czech husband. A darkly erotic study of several rather unsympathetic characters. Written by Marty Cassady <martyc@bev.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

His terrifying obsession took them to the brink of death and beyond. [Video Australia] See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of seven films that Theresa Russell made with Director Nicolas Roeg. The others being Eureka (1983), Track 29 (1988), Cold Heaven (1991), Hotel Paradise (1995), Insignificance (1985), and the "Un ballo in maschera" segment of Aria (1987). See more »

Goofs

The scene at the Bratislava border check point the Czechoslovak flag is upside down. About 2 minutes 15 seconds into the film. See more »

Quotes

Alex Linden: I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out what normal means.
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Alternate Versions

The BBFC made one cut to the film in the UK before theatrical release. The cut footage juxtaposes an image of lovemaking with a shot of a child. This was re-edited into separate shots due to concerns about the Child Protection Act, and all versions available worldwide are the re-edited version. See more »

Connections

Referenced in At the Movies: Hollywood's Outdated Ratings System (1987) See more »

Soundtracks

I'll Be Seeing You
Performed by Billie Holiday
Additional Music Courtesy of Commodore Records
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User Reviews

 
a well-accomplished, counter-cultural, innately candid examination on modern relationship and sex philosophy
5 May 2017 | by lasttimeisawSee all my reviews

Nicolas Roeg's little-circulated relationship dissertation between an American psychiatrist Alex Linden (Garfunkel) and a young American woman Milena (Russell) in Cold War Vienna has an uncanny and scandalizing paralleled real life happening befalls on its leading actor Art Garfunkel.

After its glittering opening sequences of a Gustav Klimt's exhibition, the film starts with an unconscious Milena rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night accompanied by Alex in the ambulance, ostensibly from an overdose, and in reality, during the film's shooting, Garfunkel's then girlfriend Laurie Bird, committed suicide by taking an overdose of Valium in New York, aged 26.

With that hindsight, one is prone to understand Garfunkel's sometimes perversely surly and tangibly perturbed state when facing off with either a barnstorming Russell or a probing Harvey Keitel, who plays Inspector Netusil, exerts himself in teasing out the truth out of a buttoned-up Alex, as the film's title refers, the timing of Alex's recount about the incident doesn't comply with the physical facts (car radio, Milena's state, etc.).

Predominantly, Roeg expertly expounds Alex and Milena's torrid affair by punctuating its aftermath story-line with stacks of flashback in a random arrangement, from the starting point when Milena says farewell to her much older Czech husband Stefan Vognic (Elliott) in the Czech/Austria border, to the pair's encounter, dating, a Northern Africa vacation (prompts Alex's proposal of marriage), to the toxic disintegration due to their incongruity (Lüscher's color test Vs. Paul Bowles' The Sheltering Sky, are the obvious visual pointers). It seems that it is Alex who breaches his work ethic to strike the romance with his client in the first place, then we are repeatedly subjected to the disappointment of Alex's incompetency of his own profession, his botched attempt to understand a freewheeling Milena's psychological status, which can be encapsulated in one sentence (I'm paraphrasing here) "to love a woman tremendously, to love her more than one's own dignity", a pitfall hounds most men in our patriarchal society. But meanwhile, Roeg and screenwriter Yale Udoff also show up the mercurial side of Milena's persona, she professes to be a free-spirited soul, morally unattached, physically liberated, but more often than not, she is the one who backslides into pestering Alex after their breakup, which trenchantly confounds that very statement. It is a self-destructive game which takes two to tango, a woman's congenital insecurity meets a man's unrelieved self-regard, that's what Roeg rams home to us albeit his very distracting M.O.

Honestly, it is a mind-bending journey, strewn with zeitgeist reflecting tunes (Billie Holiday, Tom Waits, The Who and counting), where the two leads engaging in graphic sexual acts (and they are nowhere near aesthetically pretty), or exchanging their thoughts in soft-focus treatment. Meantime, the apparently persisting investigation from Netusil, eventually reaches its lurid conclusion without ever sweetening the pills, it nails the psychological nitty-gritty in the face of its morally repugnant revelation.

BAD TIMING, a pertinent name for its own ill-fated reception upon its release, is a well- accomplished, counter-cultural, innately honest examination on the caprice, intransigence, and ambivalence of modern relationship and sex philosophy, powered by strong performances, in particular, a spontaneously ravishing Theresa Russell.


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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | German | Czech | French

Release Date:

25 October 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Bad Timing See more »

Filming Locations:

Austria See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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