Good on Criterion for releasing this movie, so that audiences could remember why they forgot it in the first place. A SAFE PLACE is the worst kind of American artsy crap from the late-60s/early-70s, riddled with faux-European pretensions & shallow hippie culture. Not even Welles and Nicholson can save it. Criterion's synopsis describes it as "overlooked," but actually it's a film that was forgotten with good reason.
After being scared by some of the reviews—"epochally pretentious," raves David Thomson!—I was surprised at how much immediacy A Safe Place offers in its fractured tale of a lost flower child who (depending on your taste) either escapes the world or offs herself. I'm skeptical when a movie struggles to fill 90 minutes, but happy to have a Resnais-style narrative whose language and culture I can recognize as my own.
No, this ain't the weak link in Criterion's BBS collection: that spot's reserved for Nicholson's listless Drive, He Said. Welles' turn here as a mysterious, mostly mute keeper of childhood's half-remembered magics is a little ridiculous, sure, but who cares? It also works, if you let it. Jaglom's best film is a stoned soul requiem for a damaged, beautiful, unbalanced girl and the men who would save or exploit her.
A lovely fever dream of a film that reminded me of the Czech New Wave at it's best. I'm slightly baffled by all the hate for this. Orson Welles does magic tricks and Tuesday Weld stares straight into the camera for half the movie. I found the whole thing quite beguiling and charming, and I'm really excited to see more by this Henry Jaglom.