Film: Images

Robert Altman directed a number of great films in the seventies, but Images (1972) is one that slipped under my radar. It’s an interesting, if somewhat distancing, psychological thriller about a writer named Cathryn (Susannah York). Shortly after receiving a number of disturbing phone calls accusing her husband Hugh (Rene Auberjonois) of infidelity, Cathryn journeys with him to a country house to get away from it all. Once there, she slowly starts to question her sanity as figments of her own adulterous past, both real and imagined, begin to plague her—leading to a creepy, tragic end.

Images benefits greatly from stunning location work in Ireland and a fine performance from York as the troubled protagonist, whose unsettlingly executed hallucinations keep the viewer guessing as to what’s really happening. Weirdly, I kept mistaking this work for early Nicolas Roeg, rather than Altman, whose films often have a more semi-improvisational feel. With its small cast and creepy atmosphere, Images feels more composed and deliberate than his usual work. Unfortunately, it’s also shallower; we never really get deep enough into Cathryn’s head to truly understand her, so her breakdown doesn’t entirely connect emotionally. It’s technically accomplished and the spooky cinematography is impressive, but in the end it feels rather slight and hollow.

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