Fresh from a successful debut at the Venice Film Festival, where it took home awards for Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Italian Film of the year, twisty psychological thriller The Double Hour is now available on DVD in the U.S. from Flatiron Films. Taking heist and mystery tropes in some intriguingly fresh directions, the movie starts off as a tale of classical intrigue and betrayal and morphs into a hybrid of boldly ambiguous character study and surrealist-tinged, retroactive crime procedural.
Following an apparently random and fortuitous encounter at a speed-dating event, hotel chambermaid Sonia and security guard Guido begin an awkward, sexually charged courtship. Their budding relationship ends abruptly in tragedy when an illicit rendezvous on the grounds of Guido’s typically uneventful security job leaves the upscale gallery he’s protecting vulnerable to invasion from a gang of masked thugs. The thieves abscond with a massive collection of priceless art, and Guido appears to be fatally shot. After Sonia wakes up in a hospital suffering from a non-fatal head trauma and returns to work, however, she begins to experience incongruities that point to a hidden layer of meaning in the traumatic events she witnessed. Beginning to suspect that Guido may still be alive, Sonia must also deflect the suspicions of his former co-worker, a homicide cop investigating the break-in, who appears to suspect that Sonia herself is responsible for Guido’s “death.”
Double Hour is almost self-consciously twisty and some viewers may find its constant reversals and misdirection annoying and frustrating, but for a genre so stereotypically laced with a like brand of creative schizophrenia, the gimmick plays pretty solid, with only a rare instance or two of slight over-shooting. The movie identifies so subjectively with Sonia that her own layers of motivation and emotional experience become a subject of investigation equal or superior in importance to the events surrounding her, and the revelatory glimpses into her character, alongside the true nature of the criminal event that the film strives to uncover, form an interesting interwoven parallel.
Flatiron’s disc includes some behind-the-scenes footage and deleted scenes, plus a U.S. trailer that makes the film look a little more action-packed than it truly is, although it does succeed in capturing the film’s moody visuals and emotional intensity. The behind-the-scenes featurette runs about twenty minutes, and includes interviews with much of the cast and crew, including first-time director Giuseppe Capotondi, and stars Ksenia Rappoport and Filippo Timi. An extended interview or commentary track might have been a nice touch, considering how solidly realized Capotondi’s film is, but the footage that does exist is still pretty engaging. A pretty effective debut overall, experimental enough to be refreshing without getting deeply diverted enough to prevent itself from being entertaining.