The Blue Hour



San Sebastian Film Festival

SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain -- In "The Blue Hour," first-time filmmaker Eric Nazarian focuses on what he calls the "other side" of Los Angeles to demonstrate how tough life can be. However, with an obvious lack of resources and showing no innate filmmaking skill at this stage of his career, Nazarian's observations on the lives of several characters linked by the Los Angeles River evoke little more than boredom in this digital video production.

The presence of Alyssa Milano (in a minor though serious part) may be enough to attract some fans, but the film seems destined to little exposure beyond the festival circuit.

Some inhabitants of the area next to L.A.'s river, which runs along a highway, cross paths frequently without ever getting to know each other: the homeless living on a small island, a Mexican kid who paints graffiti, a couple who just lost their child by accidental drowning and an old man who spends his days next to his wife's grave.

The canvas is pretty well-worn. At least Nazarian does not lack aspiration as he employs a structure such masters as Robert Altman ("Short Cuts") and Paul Thomas Anderson ("Magnolia") used to show their own vision of the city. Sadly, the comparison does not profit the newcomer as he is unable truly to interweave these stories to dramatic effect. Putting several characters in a frame and asking the actors to avoid looking at each other cannot suffice to express the loneliness people can experience in a metropolis.

Digital video gives a sense of immediacy and a TV look to what should have been an atmospheric picture. Excessive use of postproduction easy options, such as jump-cuts and dissolves, brings an amateurish touch.

"The Blue Hour" inspired diverse reactions at its world premiere. While it is rare to see so many people sleep and yawn at a screening, the young audience which follows the New Directors competition gave Nazarian a warm welcome after the film.

Blue Hour LLC
Director-screenwriter: Eric Nazarian
Producers: Lynnette Ramirez, Brian Knappmiller
Executive producer: Nick Slatkin
Director of photography: Sam Levy
Production designer: Tim Grimes
Costume designer: Karen Marting
Music: Aldo Shllaku
Editors: Helen Hand, Emily Koonse
Happy: Emily Rios
Allegra: Alyssa Milano
Avo: Yorick van Wageningen
Ridley: Clarence Williams III
Humphrey: Derrick O'Connor
Running time -- 90 minutes
No MPAA rating