Dir: Nicolas Roeg and Donald Cammell
James Fox plays a bagman for a London gang, who oversteps his bounds when he uses his position to pursue a personal vendetta.
He finds himself with no friends, and needs to 'disappear'. He takes refuge in the house of a former rockstar (Mick Jagger) who lives in a strange, drug-fuelled menage a trois with two attractive ladies.
James Fox starts to become part of their bohemian life. But trouble is on its way.
The film was Cammell's baby really, and Nicolas Roeg was mainly in charge of the visual aspects of the film, acting also as cinematographer.
Cammell was an interesting and complex figure. He was born inside a giant camera at the Outlook Tower in Scotland, and a close family friend was occultist Aleister Crowley, known as 'the most evil man in the world'.
He made only four films, and when the last one 'Wild Side' was cut by the producers, he killed himself.
If you like 'Performance', it is daring, creative, complex, a perfect encapsulation of the swinging 60s, a psychadelic masterpiece, and contains some of Mick Jagger's finest musical moments.
If you hate it, it is unfathomable, self-indulgent, boring, exploitational nonsense.
On its release, critic Richard Schickel described it as 'the most completely worthless film I have seen since I began reviewing.'
But as with many of the films we've shown in the last couple of weeks, the film ultimately found appreciation. Critic Mark Cousins says: "Performance was not only the greatest seventies film about identity, if any movie in the whole Story of Film should be compulsory viewing for film makers, maybe this is it."
What is important to remember about most of these films - 'Blow Up', 'Peeping Tom', 'If...' and 'The Wicker Man' is that they were bold attempts at stretching the boundaries of contemporary cinema. They failed as often as they succeeded. When one looks back at them, what was seen then as shocking is now rather tame, and one often wonders what all the fuss was about.
Also, since these films were largely 'experiments', one must remember that where those experiments succeeded, they were often copied until those experimental elements became simply part of modern cinema grammar to such an extent that we don't even notice them any more.
What cannot be denied is the influence of these films, and that they opened up a whole new world of possibilities for the film-makers who followed.
A fun bit of trivia: Keith Richards was so angry about the sex scenes between Mick Jagger and his girlfriend Pallenberg that he refused to play while the Stones recorded "Memo from Turner" for the soundtrack. Ry Cooder filled in, giving the song its signature slide guitar accompaniment.