Written by / 6/04/2022 / No comments / , , , , , , , , , , ,

HARVEY KEITEL AND ROMY SCHNEIDER IN 'DEATH WATCH'

Title: DEATH WATCH aka LA MORT EN DIRECT aka DER GEKAUFTE TOD Year: 1980 Rating: ***

An intense firebrand of a crime-genre actor playing against type during the 1970's Renaissance opposite a beautiful dying European woman is reminiscent of BOBBY DEERFIELD, where Al Pacino put the breaks on his otherwise aggressive persona as a subdued race car driver driving around with doomed Martha Keller, and Harvey Keitel opposite Romy Schneider will seem like deja vu, only it's science-fiction along with romantic melodrama...

Both elements coexisting in a not so futuristic-looking future where people rarely die of diseases, and a television series called DEATH WATCH does what THE TRUMAN SHOW would later... 

Romy Schneider and Harry Dean Stanton in DEATH WATCH

Filming a person's life where Keitel, working for shallow producer Harry Dean Stanton, has cameras implanted into his eyes to follow a dying author, Schneider's Katherine Mortenhoe, around Glasgow/Scotland locations... 

From beautiful tall grass fields to various dark-art ghettos, where she thinks he's simply her love interest, not a recording lens... and yet, she's not a complete victim, having taken the money for the show, but, thinking she's on the run, the Keitel-camera's right there with her, making her a reality star unaware...

Harvey Keitel and landscape from DEATH WATCH

The shame is that French director Bertrand Tavernier never fully realizes how creative and potentially intriguing the TV-station's plot-line is, throwing most of the more suspenseful aspects meant for the characters onto their travelogue-style surroundings...

With richly eclectic cinematography peppered with random protesters within a quasi police state that's supposed to be of an Orwellian nature but without explaining exactly how, or why...

Harvey Keitel in DEATH WATCH

And with a terrific side-cast from a gorgeous barfly (Caroline Langrishe) to Keitel's faithful narrating ex (Thérèse Liotard) to an 11th hour expository Max Von Sydow, it's an involving enough character-study... 

But when Keitel's given his own dire circumstance to compete with the woman he's predictably fallen for, the couple's synergy gets derailed, leaving the audience very little to hold onto for either the science-fiction or romance genre.

Harvey Keitel in DEATH WATCH
Harry Dean Stanton in DEATH WATCH
Harvey Keitel in DEATH WATCH with Harry Dean Stanton

 Romy Schneider in DEATH WATCH with Harvey Keitel
Romy Schneider in DEATH WATCH
Romy Schneider in DEATH WATCH with Harvey Keitel

Romy Schneider in DEATH WATCH with Harvey Keitel
Thérèse Liotard in DEATH WATCH with Harvey Keitel
Max Von Sydow and Harry Dean Stanton in DEATH WATCH

From DEATH WATCH
From DEATH WATCH
Harvey Keitel and Harry Dean Stanton in DEATH WATCH
    Romy Schneider in DEATH WATCH
    Romy Schneider in DEATH WATCH
Caroline Langrishe in DEATH WATCH
Caroline Langrishe in DEATH WATCH
Caroline Langrishe in DEATH WATCH
Robbie Coltrane in DEATH WATCH
Thérèse Liotard in DEATH WATCH with Harry Dean Stanton
Jacques Tourneur dedication from DEATH WATCH
    Romy Schneider in DEATH WATCH
Harvey Keitel in DEATH WATCH
Harvey Keitel in DEATH WATCH

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