Starring: David Hemmings, Vanessa Redgrave, Sarah Miles
Director: Michelangelo Antonioni
Running Time: 111 mins
Blow-Up is a British film about a London photographer who unwittingly captures a murder while taking pictures of a couple in a park.
Complete with all the hallmarks of legendary Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni, Blow-Up is pretty much as ’60s as cinema gets, with a unique blend of style, abstract storytelling and innovative intrigue.
For the most part, Blow-Up counts on its eye-catching style and mysterious atmosphere to tell its story, as well as a striking lead performance from David Hemmings that combines immense charisma and an underlying menace.
All of that makes Blow-Up a really rather eerie watch, an atmosphere that’s only furthered by Antonioni’s characteristic cinematic style, which sees the film play out at a very slow pace, with long periods of dialogueless, wandering drama.
If it weren’t for the film’s ’60s style and core intrigue, which follows an invasive photographer as he follows up a murder he potentially caught on film, then Blow-Up could have been a painfully dull and really quite pretentious watch.
That’s not to say the film isn’t completely immune from boring periods and certain pretentiousness, with the final act in particular not really grabbing your attention in the same way as the film’s opening stages.
Like Antonioni’s Italian-language classics L’Avventura and La Notte, the way that Blow-Up is made can make it quite an exhausting watch, as it really drags on with a deliberate eye for an organic, natural narrative procession.
However, there’s something about the way that the film blend hip, 1960s style and charisma with a dark, menacing and mysterious story. Its often abstract atmosphere further plays into the mystery of it all, while Hemmings’ performance adds to the eerie, darker menace of the film.
As a result, there are some really striking moments here that make Blow-Up an eye-catching, albeit admittedly heavy watch. Stylish throughout and featuring good intrigue, it’s a captivating watch at its best, but its cinematic style means it’s not always quite as enthralling as that. So, that’s why I’m giving Blow-Up a 7.1 overall.