Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Double Hour

"The Double Hour" is a depressingly derivative film following a pair of two-dimensional characters (the kind who are defined by a single character trait, such as liking to swim or listening to bird calls) who seem to be darting into a serious relationship when they are interrupted at a crucial moment. It apparently has a thesis along the lines of Kryzsztof Kieslowski's frustrating but technically captivating "The Double Life of Veronique," but it doesn't ever really realize it. By leaving its parameters slightly obscured, it may leave the impression that there is a method to its montonous madness, but it doesn't even connect the dots to open up interpretations. It's a bleary film where we queasily view tropes that feel extremely familiar.

Giuseppe Capotondi's film has been much compared to "Tell No One," a mildly successful movie which many consider some sort of masterpiece. This is valid: "The Double Hour" rips off much of its predecessor's plot, imagery, and dialogue. To add to recycling that film's woozy, calm-before-the-blackout score, we even have the motif of the pop tune in English here (which is strange since neither film is in that language): whereas "Tell No One" featured U2's "With or Without You" in a bizarre interlude, here we have The Cure's "In Between Days." I'd recommend watching neither film, but if you had to choose, that one is stronger.

Anyways, we follow a hotel maid named Sonia who wants to find Mr. Right, one who'll distract her from her very depressing job (stumbling in on people committing suicide isn't out of the question). Speed-dating, she has one of those "meaningful conversations" with Guido, who apparently gives the owner a lot of business. They soon decide they're in love and go take walks in the woods and listen to bird sounds and stuff. But hold your horses: this ain't a romantic comedy or a film about their relationship (which would be not very interesting, since there's no real indication of their connection). They end up having picked the worst time to have a forest sojourn, as in a fumblingly handled scene, the estate on which they are chilling is pillaged. That's just where I'll stop, since that's where the poster and the reviews have drawn the line. I can't say I exactly understand the film's middle section, which ends up looking just like time killed (running time padding?) or its ending, which is strangely arresting in its inexplicability. I miss something? It's possible.

At the center of the film is Ksenia Rappaport, who won Best Actress at Venice two years ago. I don't know why that is, though, since she stumbles around as if in a trance, boringly stressed and polite. She's a cross between Kathy Griffin and the woman in this Waverly Films video in looks but not in performance style, which would have been insane but in some ways that would satisfy what this film needs. She stars alongside Benito Mussolini from "Vincere," Fillipo Timi, but it's really her movie and the film is simply as listless as she so often is. Save for one contrived-feeling but gripping first-person POV scene (that may be a rip off from a film I haven't seen), and tinges of interest worked up by the film's strange loose ends, "The Double Hour" fails to be as mundanely remarkable as the occurrence its title describes. C-

1 comment:

Mr.Willson said...

Great review. Thank you very much.