The sad death of David Bowie prompted me to watch this flick, which coincidently was already on my list of Blindspot films to watch. Somehow I have never seen a movie featuring the great man, but even more bizarre is the fact that I haven’t heard any of his music. Nothing, not one song. I always thought I was a music freak, but seeing all the reactions to Bowie’s death in the blogosphere, I suddenly felt somewhat alienated. The rock I live under is so big that I missed Bowie’s entire career, which is something I plan to change. But first I wanted to watch this flick, as the title had already grabbed my attention months ago, while Roeg was a director whose work I was keen to watch thanks to John who had made a list of his favourite Roeg films.
Instantly intriguing, Bowie commands your attention from the first scene as Thomas Newton. I can see why this is seen as such an iconic role – he truly inhabited his character Thomas. He displays a natural ability to act – unlike the vast majority of singers/pop stars who decide to take up acting – never quite seeming 100% human, appropriate for the titular character. From what I have read he was also at the height of his cocaine problem when this was made, so his extremely skinny frame adds to the otherworldly nature about his character. He plays the character almost to perfection, a couple of times acting almost scarily out of control, especially with his numerous television sets going at the same time, which I thought was a great touch.
Despite his slightly awkward social skills, a woman takes a liking to him, and over the course of the film it seems like love is the only human feeling he is capable of, especially during the memorable gun scenes. It feels like a part of Thomas Newton wishes he was human.
Candy Clark is beautiful in this role, I’m surprised I haven’t seen her elsewhere. Her feelings for Thomas are so strong they almost come out of the screen; this is easily one of the most memorable female characters of film. She also shares great chemistry with David Bowie, which really amplified the intimate scenes. And they weren’t there just to titillate; love (or desire, or sex) is the only way Thomas can feel human. Over the course of the film though he slowly becomes less human, culminating in that memorable scene where he takes a pair of tweezers to his eyes…
The music (some of which may have been Bowie – I wouldn’t know), the surreal, memorable visions Thomas has, as well as the sweeping photography, all make for a fantastic film.
Rest in peace Mr. Bowie.
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