‘The Double Hour’ – Equal parts ‘Under the Sand’, ‘Tell No One’ and ‘Femme Fatale’

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The Double Hour

Directed by Giuseppe Capotondi

Italy, 2009

Equal parts Under the Sand, Tell No One and Femme Fatale, The Double Hour is a genre-hybrid that starts off with a roar, wriggles its way through a slippery second act, and steps in a few potholes on its way to satisfying if muted conclusion.

Guido (Filippo Timi) is a taciturn security guard and a veteran of Italy’s speed-dating scene. Sonia (Kseniya Rappoport) is a taciturn maid making her first foray into the blind

dating pool. He’s an ex-cop; she has an unspoken criminal background. True love seems to be peeking around the corner until a robbery leaves Guido dead and Sonia with the fragment of a bullet in her head. Soon Sonia starts seeing Guido everywhere – on security cameras at work, in her apartment, on the street.

To make matters worse a creepy hotel resident, Bruno (Fausto Russo Alesi), takes a liking to her, she sees an unsettling looking priest (Giorgio Colangeli) at ever turn, a suspicious cop, Dante (Michele Di Mauro) follows her, and her best friend at work Margherita (Antonia Truppo) is severely depressed.

The set-up and sequences immediately post-shooting are wonderfully paranoid and tense. At the center is a scene straight out of an early Polanski film. The lights in Sonia’s apartment go out. Guido whispers her name and she flies to the fuse box, flashlight in hand. The whispers get closer and her frantic flashlight beam hardly catches a glimpse of Guido as he moves from room to room.

The sequence is expertly shot and the use of light and dark by cinematographer Tat Radcliffe is exceptional. Pasquale Catalano’s score effectively underlines the moment.

The two leads both deservedly took home awards at the Venice Film Festival, but the supporting actors deserve mention as well. Of particular interest are the aforementioned Alesi and Di Mauro, whose prying eyes and tight-lipped smiles ratchet up the pervasive mistrust.

Though The Double Hour never falters in its fine performances and visual design, it trips up by pulling the rug out from the audience via an unreliable protagonist. While it very nearly completely covers its tracks with its final 10 minutes, the few questions left aren’t fun ones, and instead feel like cheap suspense.

– Neal Dhand

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