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The Double Hour

Between the sheer number of stories most modern viewers have seen and the cookie-cutter nature of most mass entertainment, it’s rare to find a movie that keeps you guessing without becoming merely gimmicky. The Italian genre-bender The Double Hour is a tightly conceived and consistently engrossing exercise; some viewers may want to see a second time to pick up on clues they missed along the way, but it’s perfectly satisfying even if you don’t pick up on every detail.

In the Italian city of Turin, Slovakian immigrant Sonia (Ksenia Rappoport) works as a chambermaid. At her first visit to a speed-dating event, she meets Guido (Filippo Timi), an ex-cop with a wounded heart. They hit it off and life seems to be picking up for both of them until they become involved in a robbery that shakes everything up.

The rug is pulled out from under the viewer as well, when a quarter of the way through the film seems to become quite a different story than we were expecting. Nor does it settle down then: As let down as I felt initially at one point when a sequence of events proved to be a dream (more or less), they turn out to offer an entirely new and absorbing thread of interpretation to the remainder of the story and the true nature of these two characters.

Equal parts adult romance, mystery, and film noir, The Double Hour paints a Hitchcockian suspense story with brushes from 1970s giallo, the Italian genre of stylishly lurid thrillers. The difference here is that debuting filmmaker Giuseppe Capotondi never sacrifices plausibility for effect as most gialli were too willing to do. Rappoport and Timi both won acting honors at the Venice Film Festival (as did the film for Best Italian Feature) for their work here. Complex but controlled, The Double Hour is an adult pleasure in a season that offers few of them.

m. faust

Watch the trailer for The Double Hour

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