Plenty of films try to shake up the mystery genre, but they often leave audiences scratching their heads in confusion, disappointment or a cocktail of the two.
The Italian thriller “The Double Hour” is a cerebral tonic for those unwelcome experiences.
Director Giuseppe Capotondi’s film deserves both respect and protection. And even the film’s DVD jacket cover doesn’t offer so much as a morsel of spoiler-worthy content. It’s as invigorating as the film itself, a shrewdly concocted whodunit that’s part adventure, part jigsaw puzzle.
It all begins in the frightening world of speed dating. Sonia (Ksenia Rappoport) is a lonely chambermaid willing to meet a gaggle of strangers en masse in the hopes of meeting Mr. Right. One fateful round of speed dating introduces her to Guido (Filippo Timi, “The American”), an ex-cop with a manner than cuts through the theatrics of the social event.
It’s hardly a meet cute moment in the traditional sense, but a sly romance begins all the same. But when one of their dates gets … complicated, so does the film as a whole.
To say more is to spoil multiple surprises, events that unfurl in maddening but clear-eyed fashion. The connection between Sonia and Guido keeps us off balance from the opening sparks. The actors convey the sense of wariness of people their age. They’re not kids, but they still have hope to find someone special.
The film’s title alone fits snugly into the narrative, and the more audiences look back at the narrative, the more it oddly makes sense. Yes, you’ll need to swallow some prickly realities, but the sense of adventure and originality deserve it.
Capotondi keeps the mystery alive despite several provocative reveals, but he can’t manipulate an ending that requires more of the romance than we get to see.
“The Double Hour” DVD includes a “behind-the-scenes” featurette as well as deleted scenes.