Laura Mars (Faye Dunaway) is a photographer who makes murder & violence sexy, and the film heavily imitates the works of Helmut Newton to give Laura & the film that credibility. It’s all very Hollywood-tries-giallo. Out of the blue, and it remains unexplained as to why, Laura starts literally seeing murder through her eyes – subtle. While this is all going on, she starts being protected and courted by detective Tommy Lee Jones, who looked older than granite even in 1978.
It’s extremely ‘70s, but captured in a way that highlights both the colour and the dreariness of the time; the fashion shoots feel extremely accurate, and the banter between model and photographer could have been a great movie in itself. Laura Mars could have been better, it had all the right pieces; a suitably distressed Faye Dunaway, Raul Julia, Barbra Streisand singing the main theme, and René Auberjonois as a fey producer/socialite in a wonderfully contemporary perm.
But it’s just not that fun, because it chooses to not sink into the inherently supernatural and creepy surroundings it sets up for itself; why is Laura seeing these murders? Why is no one else as upset by the murders as she is? It just cycles around hearing Faye Dunaway scream. It’s only when the twist of the last five minutes takes place does it all really seem fun, as the humans are allowed to be as unsettling and interesting as the exquisite fashion pieces seen throughout the movie.