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VENICE, Italy — Giuseppe Capatondi’s debut feature, The Double Hour, is a smart psychological thriller with the one fatal flaw that Slavic women in Italian television and cinema must be dark, tormented characters who hardly ever smile. In a criminal caper with a twist, this actually works against the story.
Venice audiences were enthused about the film and, truly, it is rare to find an Italian noir with such a tight script that is not full of plot holes. The Double Hour will play wide at home and is by default art house material abroad, especially given that the lead actors are only now making a name for themselves internationally.
Sonia (Ksenia Rappoport) is a Slovenian woman who lives in Turin and works as a hotel maid. (Another staple of Italian scriptwriting: Slavic women are either prostitutes, maids or nannies, like Rappoport’s character in Giuseppe Tornatore’s The Unknown).
At a speed-dating session, she connects with Guido (Filippo Timi), a lonely security guard.
They barely get to know each other when he is killed and she wounded in a hold-up. But she continues to see him everywhere and slowly other characters begin acting menacingly as well. Is Sonia, who is obviously harboring a secret, going mad or was Guido’s death a setup? Just when the mysterious coincidences reach the point of exasperation, a surprising turn of events takes place at the end of the second act, skillfully tying up all of the previous threads.
The title alludes to the double hour on a clock (such as 12:12) and a parallel story in the film. Eventually, the film’s noir elements give way to a more personal story about guilt and the inability to change who we are.
Timi is great, as always, though he doesn’t have enough to do here. Sonia was probably written for Rappoport because there is no real reason for her to be a foreigner. As it is, the cliched, brooding nature of the character weighs down the film’s suspense, too often making all the signs point in the same, and sometimes predictable, direction.
Antonia Truppo and Gaetano Bruno give memorable supporting performances, as they did in another competition title, “The White Space.
Venue: Venice Film Festival (Competition
Production companies: Indigo Film, Medusa Film
Cast: Ksenia Rappoport, Filippo Timi, Antonia Truppo, Giorgio Colangeli, Lucia Poli, Gaetano Bruno, Fausto Russo Alesi, Michele Di Mauro
Director: Giuseppe Capotondi
Screenwriters: Alessandro Fabbri, Ludovico Rampoldi, Stefano Sardo
Producers: Nicola Giuliano, Francesca Cima
Director of photography: Tat Radcliffe
Production designer: Totoi Santoro
Music: Pasquale Catalano
Editor: Guido Notari
No rating, 95 minutes
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Venice Film Festival