Thursday, April 14, 2011

“The Double Hour” – Movie Review

This week in my movie class, we saw a thriller from Italy titled, “The Double Hour” (“La Doppia Ora”).

A couple get victimized in the course of a brutal robbery – but in the aftermath, one of them suspects that they may have been set up by the other.

Sonia is a lonely young woman who currently works as a chambermaid at a very upscale hotel in Turin, Italy.  When not keeping in shape by swimming at her gym, she spends her time attending speed-dating sessions in desperate attempts to find a man with whom she can share her life.  Eventually, she meets Guido, a widower who now works as a security guard at a gated mansion.  They seem to hit it off and wind up spending a bit of time with each other after the evening’s speed-dating.  Later, they decide to to go out together – a fateful decision that turns out to be an epic bad first date. 

Taking her to the estate where he stands guard, Guido carelessly disables the electronic security system upon entrance to the property so that he and Sonia can stroll all by themselves through the expansive wooded area behind the property.  Just as things are about to get romantic between the two of them, they are interrupted by a team of robbers who ransack the house and cart off all the ornate furnishings and expensive art into a moving van.  During the course of the robbery, Guido incurs a gunshot wound from one of the robbers; upon the bullet’s exit, it glances off Sonia, grazing her forehead and causing her to go into a coma for several days. 

Despite both of them being injured in the course of the robbery, Guido begins to suspect that Sonia may have been behind the scheme and intentionally implicating him in the crime.  As a direct result of the theft, Guido loses his job and while looking for new employment, he spends an increasing amount of time with Sonia even though he has doubts about what was behind the robbery.  When a police investigation appears to confirm Guido’s worst fears, will he turn in Sonia unless she can prove her innocence? 


This is a movie that’s tough to describe in part because it’s a bit difficult to follow and also because any description might include spoilers, either intentionally or not.  One thing I feel that’s incumbent upon me to tell you upfront – only because some folks find this an issue when it comes to seeing foreign films such as this one – is the fact that the movie has subtitles.  In all honesty, I don’t mind subtitles in a movie, but if you as a filmmaker are going to use subtitles, then either do it right or don’t do it at all.  Unfortunately, this movie does not do it right – the subtitles are in white lettering which frequently makes them difficult to read during the all too brief periods of time when they appear on screen while up against light colored backgrounds.  The far better choice – something which disappoints me when filmmakers don’t do this – is to use the color yellow for the lettering because the subtitles can be easily read regardless of whether or not they are put up against a dark or light background. 

Enough about the subtitles, back to the movie itself.  The actual story is honestly a pretty clever idea, but maybe a little too clever because it’s difficult to pull off and still keep a coherent film that people can follow without it being overly demanding on the audience.  Our instructor pointed out that one of the goals of a thriller is to keep the audience off balance -- “Double Hour” accomplished this task, but maybe a little too well for my taste because by the time of the movie’s big reveal – which ends the second act – I’ve invested so much time trying to follow what originally appeared to be the main story that I came away confused and angry that I was forced to watch the “wrong” story.  Add to this that the ending was a little unsatisfying – especially given what we were set up for – that I felt the movie was something of a letdown.  As a result, I can’t really recommend going to see this in the theater, however, it would probably be better off as a rental, provided you wanted to go back and watch it a second time to really figure it out by seeing what you missed on the first view.

While there was no one from the movie to be interviewed either before or after the screening, we did, however get treated to an interview with show business icon Shirley MacLaine prior to viewing the movie; you may have seen her on TV recently as she has been making the usual TV talk show rounds in order to promote her new book, I’m Over All That, her twelfth.  Although she talked extensively about her metaphysical beliefs, what I found most interesting in her interview were the stories she told about working with such movie legends as Alfred Hitchcock and Peter Sellers.  She worked with Hitchcock on “The Trouble With Harry” and found him to be difficult to understand because he give much of his direction in a type of Cockney slang (e.g., “Genuine Chopper” meant “Relax” and “Dog’s Feet” meant “Pause”).  MacLaine co-starred with Sellers in “Being There” and she said that he spent much of the shoot convincing himself – and others, apparently – that he and MacLaine were engaged in a torrid love affair, although she claims that it was completely untrue because he was not her type. 

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