'The Double Hour' opens in the midst of a speed dating joust -- in Turin Italy, of all places. Now we know speed dating is an international phenomenon. And we know this is going to be a depressing movie. Sonia (Ksenya Rappoport) admirably controls herself while going through encounter after encounter of jerk after jerk. Thankfully, they're brief especially since we've all seen speed dating loser scenes in many films already. Guido finally sits at Sonia's table and says nothing, and therefore, doesn't put his foot in his mouth. It's a relief for her as well as the audience. Turns out Guido is this particular speed dating group's best customer, having made a habit of attending since his widowhood. He seems to be as grateful as Sonia to have met someone he can at least bare long enough to take home, have sex with, then promptly eject from his home in a fit of anguish, perhaps guilt, certainly a potpourri of emotions.
Thus starts Sonia and Guido's relationship. And thus starts a series of events that constantly surprise and shock us. Guido, an ex-cop (why is unexplained, but probably due to his wife's death) is now a security guard at an opulent estate. While he and Sonia spend a day exploring the estate grounds, a very organized robbery takes place causing not only loss of property, but extreme consequences to our loving couple. What follows becomes very confusing, almost dreamlike. Police start an investigation, so the audience's crime solving skills are put to the test, along with the investigators'. To our dismay, there are enough loose ends to make us throw up our hands in frustration. New and previously unknown character names are bandied about. Characters we know do unexpected and unmotivated things. Strange sounds that seem to emanate from nowhere actually do have no source. There is too much going on that doesn't make sense to be caused by the viewer's inadequacy in following the plot or the writers' inability to develop a cohesive story. Am I going insane? Is Sonia going crazy? Will we ever stand on solid ground again for the duration of the film?
Yes, we do. And not only does all become clear, but why each strange occurrence takes place makes an even deeper and more textured sense. This is truly a psychological thriller, a doomed romance, a crime caper of the highest degree of artistry. Some have dubbed 'The Double Hour' Hitchcockian. I say Mr. H. never plumbed the depths of guilt, sorrow, longing, or Freudian symbolism (Dali's dream sequence in 'Spellbound' (1945) though pretty, was heavy handed and superficial in comparison) as 'The Double Hour' does seemingly effortlessly. Even the very small and minor details that are unexplained leave us smiling sadly. This is a film to be rewatched several times to truly appreciate the structure, symbolism, motivation of the characters and especially the acting skill of Ms. Rappoport and Mr. Timi.
The Double Hour
Director: Giuseppe Capotondi
Writer: Alessandro Fabbri, Ludovica Rampoldi, Stefano Sardo
Cast: Ksenya Rappoport, Filippo Timi, Antonio Truppo, Fausto Russo Alesi
Time: 95 min.
Opening at the Clay Theater in San Francisco