Directed by Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg
Running time: 105 mins
Lauded as one of the best British films ever made, Performance (1970), Nicolas Roeg's cult directorial debut, is still a radically experimental film. Co-directed by Donald Cammell (who also wrote the screen play) with Roeg who, until then, had been a cameraman, it's a psychological crime drama set in the swinging London of the 1960s which briefly unites London's criminal underworld with the prevailing hippie culture. Starring James Fox, Anita Pallenberg, Michele Breton and Mick Jagger from the Rolling Stones in his first screen role, it caused disgust and outrage in equal measure at the time of its release. Chas (James Fox) is a sadistic thug in an East London gang led by Harry Flowers (Johnny Shannon). Chas intimidates through violence to collect pay-offs for a living but when he gets involved in a retaliatory murder, he goes on the run. At first heading for the countryside, he returns to London assuming the new name of Johnny Dean and winds up at the house of eccentric former rock star Turner (Mick Jagger). Turner lives in a casual ménage-à-trois with his two female companions Pherber (Anita Pallenberg) and Lucy (Michele Breton) and what at first appears to be a decadent idyll, develops into a Borgesian labyrinth that, through a series of drug fuelled mind games, challenge Chas' very identity. Apart from its star cast – Jagger's presence turned the film into the 'event' at the year – Roeg included non-actors such as Johnny Shannon, a fighter and printer from East London and John Bindon, a known London criminal, to give the movie its authentic flavour. A troubled film which left a trail of professional and personal disasters for all involved in its wake, it asks some serious questions about notions of sanity and identity which are still rarely broached in mainstream filmmaking.
Reservation is not necessary, but places are limited. Please arrive early to avoid disappointment.