Performance (1970)

As a UK script consultant I often find myself restructuring other writers’ scripts, but even I wouldn’t go as far as the mad crazed and beautiful editing of the first part of Performance.

Modern viewers may find the jump cut, flashback mise-en-scene madness a bit harsh (and possibly dated?) at the start of the film, but relax. The film settles into a brilliant look at identity, drugs, sex, music and gangsters.

I haven’t seen the film for a long while but wanted to revisit it thanks to my recent viewing of White of the Eye which was directed by Donald Cammell who co-directed Performance with Nic Roeg.

Catching up with Performance again, it doesn’t disappoint and it’s easy to see why this film is a cult classic and demands repeated viewings.

What’s great about it? James Fox nails the gangster role, Mick Jagger is awkward and a treat, and the music is simply fantastic (including some work by Ry Cooder which ended up being recycled years later in Paris, Texas.)

Anita Pallenberg is also a lovely as Pherber, and there’s a great role for a kid actor who has some of the best lines in the film and he has great comic timing too.

Look out for John Bindon – an actor, with real life connections to the Kray twins, and a notorious hard man in his own right. I have toyed with a script based on Bindon’s real life but never got too far with it. Anyway – he’s a pussy cat in this…

Matthew Cooper has been a script writer for hire for over 20 years. He’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award winning episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer. He’s also a leading UK script consultant. You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb. You can get in touch with Matthew on or hire him on Peopleperhour