Mindgames – The Double Hour review

The Double Hour – Starring Ksenia Rappoport and Filippo Timi. Directed by Giuseppe Capotondi. Rated M. Originally published March 28, 2011. By Simon Miraudo.

Giuseppe Capotondi’s Italian thriller The Double Hour is a tremendous flick; one that we can look forward to probably being remade by Hollywood in a particularly toothless manner in the next few years. It’ll likely star Katherine Heigl, be directed by McG and have a tacked-on happy ending where everyone gets what they want. Yay for compromised vision! Well, until that sad day, we have the original to savour. A brutal, beautiful fusion of The Vanishing, A History of Violence, Mulholland Drive and Les Diaboliques, The Double Hour is a haunting meditation on grief and guilt masquerading as an intense psychological murder mystery.

Ksenia Rappoport stars as Sonia, a hotel chambermaid who meets untrusting security guard Guido (Filippo Timi) at an evening of speed-dating. A romance is sparked; Guido lets down his guard and allows Ksenia into his heart. She, a lonely immigrant, is equally enamoured. He invites her to the sprawling estate he watches over for a living, turns off the alarms, and takes her for a walk. Coincidentally – or maybe not so much – the two of them are accosted by balaclava-wearing thieves. The property is cleaned out, but before they can take advantage of Sonia’s bound-and-gagged body, Guido jumps to her defence and sacrifices his life in the process. Months later, Sonia tries to get on with her life, but Guido’s cop buddy keeps hassling her, a creepy customer at the hotel is giving off some evil vibes, and worst of all, Sonia’s mind begins to play tricks on her, leading her to wonder if her former love is really dead.

Music video director Capotondi makes his feature film debut with The Double Hour, or La Doppia Ora if we’re referring to it in its native tongue. Although we sometimes dismiss commercial directors that transition to the movies, Capotondi shows off the same flair and tightly-wound intensity as early David Fincher (and this is a hell of a better first film than Alien 3, but we won’t keep holding that against him). That he is able to effortlessly transition between restrained moments of drama and sequences that are almost horrific in execution, without it ever seeming unnatural, is damn impressive. He and screenwriters Alessandro Fabbri, Ludovica Rampoldi and Stefano Sardo even pull off a third act twist without it seeming gimmicky and execute a now-trite cinematic convention with pitch-perfect precision.

The title of the movie refers to that moment you glance at a clock and notice the time is repeated (for example: 12:12pm, 08:08am and so on). Gino equates it with catching a falling star; it calls for the lucky viewer to make a wish. Next time I find a double hour, I’ll wish for another thriller as solid and satisfying as this film. Hopefully that doesn’t get misunderstood by the cosmos as a remake. Seriously, McG, hands off.


Check out Simon’s other reviews here.

The Double Hour arrives on DVD May 11, 2011.

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