The Double Hour Plays it Safe

Low-energy Italian mystery doesn't thrill.

Cinematographer Tat Radcliffe's gray Turin sets the monotone of The Double Hour, while director Giuseppe Capotondi softens promising material to mush for the refined digestion of sophisto audiences. Guido (Filippo Timi, Vincere's Mussolini), a retired policeman turned security guard, is a habitué of speed-dating events, where he meets Sonia (Ksenia Rappoport), a hotel chambermaid. Their budding courtship, rendered in too-close close-ups and grainy intimacy, is interrupted by a criminal act that, to Guido's friends on the force, seems all-too-coincidental. What follows, via narrative occlusions, flip-flops of sympathy and close-to-the-vest performances, is an effort to tease the viewer along: Who knows what about whom, and when? What happened after that gunshot? Was that face in the security camera actually there? Capotondi, making his debut feature after a career in fashion photography and music videos, pays lip service to '70s Italian giallo -- but giallo didn't sedate the Hollywood thriller model; it hotwired it through its own bellicose, ironic style. Anomie presented in the jaded, straitjacketing mode of 21st-century Euro-realism, The Double Hour sustains a minimum of attention thanks to the naturally beguiling presence of long-stemmed Rappoport, but what might've a less cautious director done with the material?

 
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