15 November 2002 | cairnsdavid
Nothing says heartbreak like Petulia
I've never seen a film which captured the confusion of love gone wrong like this. The kaleidoscopic editing can be a distraction but it also helps create the torment of the main character as his life slowly ceases to make sense. Stunningly photographed by Nicolas Roeg, and a clear influence on his later BAD TIMING, in which the neurosis, present in all the characters of PETULIA, blossoms into full-blown psychosis. What this film has over Roeg's is a sharper compassion and a satiric portrait of late summer-of-love San Francisco which feels accurate and quite ahead of its time. Disillusion has already set in. George C Scott is majestic, and Julie Christie goes from irritating in the "BRINGING up BABY for the Pepsi Generation" opening sequences, to ultimately moving and affecting. The ending, where she goes under the gas (to give birth, but it feels more permanent than that), is as oddly chilling as Lester's earlier HOW I WON THE WAR (which ends with Michael Crawford eating a biscuit, and manages to make this terrifying). What can I say? If you have time and sympathy for people who are a bit screwed up, PETULIA may speak to you.