Plot: Dominique (Jean Simmons) seems to have a good life, as she lives on a lush estate and her husband David (Cliff Robertston) is a man of wealth, earning a generous income from the stock market. But Dominique is unable to enjoy the perks of her lifestyle, as she feels like her mind is falling apart. Her memory has gaps, as she is being told she is doing things, but she has no recollection of her actions, while she also suffers from what appear to be hallucinations. Her visions involve supernatural elements, including those who have passed to the other side and over time, her visions push her to the brink of sanity. After she takes her own life, David begins to suffer from similar visions and he believes Dominique is haunting him from beyond the grave. Will he suffer the same fate as his late wife or are these visions just delusions?
Entertainment Value: Dominique is a slow, often creaky supernatural chiller, one that is light on scares, but the movie does have some competent suspense. The narrative is not that original, but takes some strange directions at times and becomes so convoluted after a while. Of course, I like plots where twists and turns are thrown in for no reason, just to complicate the narrative and that is what happens here. I can see how some would dislike this, especially since Dominique is otherwise serious and deliberate, but at least the odd plot threads add some entertainment. The finale is a total let down, but again, I love when stories roll the dice or make inexplicable choices, so even if it fizzles, I found some fun in how the movie wraps up. I do think most genre fans will appreciate the general atmosphere and mood of Dominique, as these elements are well done, but they can only do so much. I think the pace is just glacial at times and the movie meanders, perhaps flaws due to outside interference, which is often discussed when the film’s production is discussed. In any event, Dominique isn’t going to dazzle most genre fans, but it has some interesting elements at work. So if you like deliberate, old fashioned chillers, give it a shot.
I think the main draw of this movie has to be the mood and atmosphere, but the cast is also solid, given the material involved. The slow pace and convoluted twists hold back the performers somewhat, but there are still good efforts here. A bit on the sedated side, perhaps, but still solid. Cliff Robertson delivers a sincere performance that conveys the struggles of his mind, which adds to the film’s mood. If he doesn’t get across the state of mind his character is in, a lot of the tension drains from the material and in this case, that would have been disastrous. Dominique needs all the tension and suspense it can muster, so Robertson’s turn here adds a lot to the experience. Jean Simmons has less screen time, but is able to do so much with her presence, even the scenes with no dialogue just work with her. The cast also includes Jack Warner, Jenny Agutter, and Simon Ward.
The Disc: I had only been able to see Dominique in faded, cropped versions, so this new 2k restoration sourced from the original negative was a revelation. Vinegar Syndrome is able to deliver remarkable visual treatments and to call this an improvement over prior editions would be a massive understatement. The print looks super clean and the image has a refined, film-like texture that simply shines here. I was never able to appreciate how impressive the movie’s visuals were, because previous transfers were so soft and worn, so this was like seeing it again for the first time. The extras include informative audio interviews with star Michael Jayston and assistant director Brian Cook, as well as the film’s trailer.