Petulia (1968)

Petulia (1968), directed by Richard Lester.

This early non-linear tale is at first frustrating because it seems like a chaotic plot, but also because of the mixed messages of the character played by the great Julie Christie. She wants to begin an affair with divorced doctor George C. Scott, but when they get to the hotel room: no affair.

Only as flashbacks fill in the plot do we see the order of the story, and also begin to understand Petulia. In the end, she isn't rescued, but we are not sure she needs to be.

Sometimes in film Scott tends to go full Charlton Heston (whom I revere); here he is much better, dialing it back, more introverted.

Richard Chamberlain, the prettiest man ever made, also gets to do something different as Petulia's husband, abusive and possibly psychotic.

Filmed in and around San Francisco with brief shots of famous West Coast musicians: Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead and more.

John Barry score, photographed by Nicolas Roeg, which is another great combination of talent.

After seeing this, David Lean wrote to Lester: "I used to think I was a good cutter, but you've taught me that I don't know anything about it".

Available on DVD.