The Great Sounds of ‘Bad Timing’

A protagonist defined more by her noises than her appearance.

Director Nicolas Roeg’s Bad Timing features a performance by Theresa Russell that is defined in large part through her voice. Co-starring with Art Garfunkel, there is a conflict of relationships and agency that is best distilled into the freedom of sound.

Cristina Álvarez López & Adrian Martin’s video essay cuts together a great deal of examples highlighting what they call Russell’s “sonic vitality.” Laughter, shouts, and hiccups accompany the octaves-wide range of her dialogue delivery, which goes all over the scale to reflect her psychology.

Performances based mostly on dialogue are often understated and quiet, but in Bad Timing, the sounds do the heavy lifting. Lilting teases, randy seductions, and straining sadness all affect our ears before our eyes. If anything, this is more of an audio essay.

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Jacob Oller writes everywhere (Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Playboy, FSR, Paste, etc.) about everything that matters (film, TV, video games, memes, life).