A chambermaid meets an ex-cop at a speed dating event and things take off from there, and then are momentarily taken hostage by a group of gun-wielding burglars in the low-key psychological thriller The Double Hour, from filmmaker Giuseppe Capotondi.
Starring Kseniya Rappoport as Sonia and Filippo Timi as Guido, The Double Hour is a surprisingly gripping movie that slowly sucks the audience in and then spits it out the other side. And there is another side, but I won't clarify.
Rappoport and Timi deliver fine performances as the budding but complicated romantics, but it's Capotondi's attention to detail and nuance that makes The Double Hour work. The movie is merely a romantic drama for much of its running time, but it's the threat of something else, something about to go wrong, that allows suspense to creep in from the shadows, subtly building to what it becomes. It's this slow-boil approach that grabs hold and doesn't let go.
Well, until it does.
SPOILER ALERT: Unfortunately, I didn't care for the twist. Or twists. The "double hour" turn is interesting, but as subtle as it is, the movie suffers from a bait-and-switch with the protagonist. Having characters appear to be one thing when they are in fact another is an essential facet of crime thrillers, but when it's the main character, and the audience isn't in the know the whole time, that's problematic.
The Double Hour is at times spellbinding, but the slow boil never amounts to a whole lot. The climax isn't much of a climax, and while the "double hour" gimmick (there I am being all vague again) is intriguing, it's still a gimmick. Capotondi doesn't fully capitalize on its use; rather than allowing the pot to boil over, he switches off the burner and lets the heat slowly fade away.
That's not how thrillers should end.
The Double Hour is a technically satisfying thriller, but its ending fails to capitalize on the tension Capotondi develops throughout the rest of the movie.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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