Saturday, July 01, 2006

FORTY SHADES OF BLUE - beautifully crafted drama

FORTY SHADES OF BLUE is a beautifully crafted, lyrical movie. It unfurls at a languorous pace which I suspect some might find frustrating. However, the pace perfectly matches the emotional arc of the key character - a young Russian woman called Laura. Laura is in a relationship with an old, wealthy record producer called Alan James. He is not a bad man, and one suspects that he does love Laura and their young son Sam. But he is one of those personalities that dominates a room - successful, out-going and yet somehow like a bulldozer. Her attitude begins as one of stolid, uncomplaining contentment. As she says to Alan's grown-up son, she lives better than anyone she has ever known and feels that she has no right to complain. The movie traces her increasing self-awareness about what she wants from life and what she feels about her current situation, faciliated partly by a messy affair. As the movie closed out on a freeze-frame on Laura, I was reminded of Henry James' Portrait of a Lady.

The movie deals unashamedly with adult themes in an unflashy, unsentimental manner. It hangs on a script of uncanny insight; deft, intimate camera-work; and two lead performances of subtlety and conviction. Rip Torn - better known to most as Will Smith's boss in MEN IN BLACK - is a revelation as the ageing musician. Dina Korzun is outstanding - truly Oscar-deserving - as Laura. I should also mention that the sound-track is superb - particularly the title song. The upshot is that I heartily recommend this film - although it is clearly not for those Friday-night popcorn moments.

FORTY SHADES OF BLUE premiered at Sundance 2005 where it won the Grand Jury Prize. It has since been on release in the US, Austria and France. It opened in the UK yesterday. I have no information about the German or Australian release date.

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