"Don't Look Now" Review
“Don’t Look Now” is successful in its ability to intertwine so many seemingly unrelated events into one unsettling nightmare. From the beginning of the story, we know that John and his wife, Laura have lost their young daughter to a case of meningitis. This vacation is taken under doctor’s orders as a means of recovery for the devastated Laura. The tale escalates when, at a restaurant, twin psychics tell Laura that they see her deceased daughter sitting at their table.
Du Maurier’s “Don’t Look Now” is an effective exercise in restraint. The story is driven by coincidence, yet infused with a lingering sense of the supernatural. You never quite know what will happen next, and Du Maurier manages to scatter so many dangling plot points into the story, that it’s nearly impossible to know which will cause the protagonist’s unraveling.
There’s a wonderfully uncanny scene where John is finally leaving Venice to meet his wife, who left three days prior on a plane. However, while crossing the canal on a boat, he sees his wife with the psychic twins on a returning boat opposite the canal. An unmistakable sense of dread emerges in which John questions both his wife’s motivations and his own sanity.
The scene works well because Venice - and all its twisting, spiraling roads - is a character in itself. Seeing his wife on the boat ensures John’s return to Venice, pulling him deeper into the nightmare. This is the scene I think of when I said that some stories have a way of sticking with you.
Without question, “Don’t Look Now” comes highly recommended. It is a wonderful work by a writer at the top of her game (also read du Maurier’s “The Birds” if you have a chance - it’s different from the movie, but highly effective). Believe me, “Don’t Look Now” will linger with you long after the startling conclusion.