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— The Double Hour is a curious and rare film, one which actually leaves you wanting more. I still haven’t decided whether or not it’s a swindle, but it’s different enough that fans of subtitled cinema will probably want to check it out.

It feels, at least in it’s middle third, a bit like The Sixth Sense (and even more like Adrian Lyne’s cult favorite Jacob’s Ladder), as director Giuseppe Capotondi feints toward the pulpish giallo (yellow) genre, that singular Italian blend of horror and noir romance reminiscent of cheap crime novels of the 1930s with yellow covers. But it lacks the garish, campy quality of those films, adopting instead an aesthetic we might call M. Night Serious.

Two-thirds in, the film abruptly switches gears, double clutches and roars off in another direction. And suddenly it is over, leaving you to choose between feeling swindled and intoxicated. It might take you some time to decide exactly how you feel about the film.

It opens, grimly enough, with comely Slovenian chambermaid Sonia (Kseniya Rappoport) going about her work scrubbing bathrooms in a Turin luxury hotel while a hotel guest leaps to her death from the adjoining bedroom. How this affects our girl isn’t immediately clear, as she shows up that evening for a round of speed dating and meets a couple of losers and a soulful widower, the excop Guido (Filippo Timi - sopowerful as Mussolini in 2009’s Vincere) who, in mourning, has been reduced to working security at an absentee billionaire art collector’s estate.

They mesh, and before too long they’re gamboling around the grounds of the estate. Nowthings turn dark, as balaclavawearing thieves descend. Guido tussles with one of them, a shot rings out and the film jumps forward a few weeks.

Sonia is back at work, a survivor of the attack. A bullet struck her in the forehead, but not before it passed through Guido’s body, apparently killing him. But at intervals, she sees him - or his ghost. Here the film becomes a quasi-horror film, a drama of shadows and sounds. (It’s telling that Guido was a different kind of cop, an audio engineer who specializedin tapping phones. Like the John Travolta character in 1981’s Blow Out, Brian De Palma’s riff on Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up, he does his best work with a shotgun microphone.)

While the twists aren’t hard to follow, they’re of the hairpin variety and they come at you pretty fast, and the end result is something like an amusement park ride. For a while we’re jerked around before gliding harmlessly to a stop.

The Double Hour is a minor, implausible movie but Capotondi is an efficient and surehanded director who invests in the details - a snatch of the Cure’s “In Between Days” is used to good effect, the initial baffling middle third turns out to be cleverly constructed, and the two leads have sufficient chemistry to keep things interesting. And Turin is a photogenic city that’s not been overexposed on American screens.

The Double Hour 86

Cast:

Kseniya Rappoport, Filippo Timi,

Director:

Giuseppe Capotondi

Rating:

Not rated

Running time:

95 minutes In Italian with English subtitles

MovieStyle, Pages 38 on 06/17/2011

Print Headline: The Double Hour

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