The Double Hour
Now Showing at: Esquire Theatre
Review by: Larry Thomas
Although it’s becoming harder to do, what with all the media blathering under the guise “entertainment reporting,” it’s still possible to wander in to a movie without having a clue what you’re about to see. And if it turns out to be a really good movie, then that’s the cherry on the cake.
Such is the case with The Double Hour, an Italian psychological thriller that will keep you intrigued from start to finish. Directed by Giuseppi Capotondi, this is a Hitchcockian tale about an ex-cop who meets up with a Slovenian chambermaid at a speed-dating event. As their relationship progresses, events conspire to thwart their budding romance.
Unlike many Italian films, The Double Hour is not set in Rome or Venice or Naples. It’s set, and was shot in, Turin, which is a nice change of scenery. First-time director Capotondi also lucked out with casting. Filippo Timi and Russian actress Ksenia Rappaport are certainly not your household names, even in Italy. But their performances are so heartfelt and compelling that if they had been two unknowns in a comparable American film, they would have immediately graduated to bigger films almost immediately.
The only way a film like this might get made on this side of the pond is through independent channels, under the radar of the studio geeks who only have a nose for money. Like Christopher Nolan’s Memento, The Double Hour is full of twists and turns which never let you off the hook. The title, by the way, refers to the times of day when the hour and minutes are the same…for example, 10:10. Beautifully shot in rough-hewn noir style by cinematographer Tat Radcliffe, it possesses the texture of a Roman Polanski film.
But the previously mentioned twists and turns make it impossible, if not downright irresponsible, to reveal more of the plot in this review. You don’t need to know more to walk into this movie, and once there, you won’t want to know more as the events begin unfolding on screen.
Two things to keep in mind, however. The word “double” in the title has more than just a passing meaning. And the film managed to win the Best Actress, Best Actor and Best Italian Film prizes at the Venice International Film Festival, which is no mean feat for a first time director and virtually unknown cast.
I should also admonish you to not show up late for the start of the film. Every frame needs to be seen, savored, and dissected. And when you’ve seen it, please don’t tell your friends the whole plot. Let them discover it on their own. After all, cinematic pleasures like this are becoming harder to come by.
The Double Hour, in Italian with English subtitles, is now showing at the Esquire Theatre.