Critic's Pick: The Double Hour (La doppia ora) 

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The Double Hour (La doppia ora)

Dir. Giuseppe Capotondi; writ. Alessandro Fabbri, Ludovica Rampoldi, Stefano Sardo; feat. Kseniya Rappoport, Filippo Timi. (not yet rated)

 

Early in this movie, the clock marks 23:23; we’re told that’s a “double hour,” and that you’re supposed to make a wish. “Does it work?” asks Sonia (Rappoport, a Slovenian maid at a Turin hotel), to which Guido (Timi, an ex-cop who is now head of security at an art estate) replies, “No.” Maybe he once wished for a long-lasting romance. Instead, he’s a widower who now channels his love into designing sound gadgets and attending depressing speed-dating sessions.

Rappoport and Timi won Best Actress and Best Actor honors, respectively, at the 2009 Venice Film Festival, and the movie itself won the Best Italian Film award that same night, making it a hell of a start for first-time director Giuseppe Capotondi. It is an intense, often disturbing romantic drama that becomes a tour de force that’s equal parts film noir, detective story, and psychological thriller.

Sonia and Guido meet at a speed-dating event, after Sonia meets a series of creepy candidates. With Guido there’s instant chemistry, even though Guido doesn’t say much. But when things are about to get steamy, something goes terribly wrong. From then on, nothing is what it seems. Even though clues give away the movie here and there, the acting and direction are so superb that you’re captivated by the endless twists and turns, and you’re as confused as Sonia — is this really happening? No, this isn’t your typical cliché case of,“Oh, it was all a dream.” It is much more complex than that. The movie is ultimately about real love: complex, illogical, arbitrary, insane. None of the characters are saints, yet you root for them with the same kind of madness that attracts them to each other in the first place.

Here’s a warning: If you’re the type who likes to be shocked for the sake of shock, don’t even bother. If, instead, you’re in the mood for a smart and unpredictable ride that takes its time, this is your movie.

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