' ' Cinema Romantico: The Double Hour

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Double Hour

Being me I, of course, wanted to see a some kind of film while I was in New York that I likely would not get to see in Chicago and initially I had settled on "Sympathy For Delicious", Mark Ruffalo's directing debut, until I realized "The Double Hour", an Italian crime film, was playing at the Lincoln Plaza Theater which meant it was a few hops and a couple skips away from the Lincoln Center and, well, since much of "Black Swan" was set at Lincoln Center I had to visit it to bond with it because, hey, it's me and that's how I operate.

If speed dating wasn't already an "Amityville Horror"-esque prospect - and it is - "The Double Hour" (released in 2009 in its native Italy, just released in the States) will forever assure it of this stigma. Consider: our protagonists, Sonia (Kseniya Rappoport) and Guido (Filippo Timi), meet speed dating and sparks are sensed primarily because they both seem so weary and on guard about the whole god-awful ordeal. She is a chambermaid, he is an ex cop now working a crummy job as a security guard. They go out. They go out again. All seems well. Love is in the air. In the whisper of the trees. So much so that he does something he says he has never done and takes her to the house he has been hired to guard, momentarily shutting down the security cameras for an afternoon frolic in the woods when a bunch of thugs in ski masks turn up, tie them up and rob the house of all its immensely expensive art. And when the lead thug makes a move on Sonia, Guido attacks and a gunshot sounds.

The film then moves into its second act where things turn much more ominous in a very restrained but suitably eerie way. The many seeds planted in the early stages - Sonia's fellow, slightly scatter-brained chambermaid, a spooky guest at the hotel, a detective Guido still knows - intermingle with your typical tricks of a horror film, such as someone who we assume is dead turning up on a camera, songs appearing when no music is playing, and so forth. But then the movie does the most unusual thing at the conclusion of the 2nd act via a twist I will not reveal.

What I will say is that this twist, initially, appears to render all we have just seen mute. But this is not necessarily the case. The poster for "The Double Hour" trots out the ancient tag: "Nothing is what it seems." Except this tag might very well be the complete opposite of the film's intent. Indeed, while everything did not appear to be what it seemed, it might end up being what it seemed to be all along. And if this is true it makes "The Double Hour" doubly depressing. It's like a twice baked potato of despair. Which might not be a good film for most Americans to see on vacation. Me? I didn't mind so much. But, you know, I'm also the guy who, as stated, immediately after "The Double Hour" ended bopped across the street to chill at Lincoln Center for a couple hours because, in theory, it's where Natalie Portman - er, Nina Sayers - er, whichever - went and....but then you still might not have seen "Black Swan."

Never mind.

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