The Blue Room
May 23, 2017
1 Hr., 16 Mins.
The sinful lovers of Mathieu Amalric’s directorial debut, The Blue Room (2014), clearly haven’t seen a prototypical erotic thriller from the 1990s. In so many of them, paramours indulge themselves in steaming affairs which more or less usually lead to tragedy. How a tragedy makes way varies. But unspoken is the rule of thumb that murder is never a way to get out of a precarious situation — better to simply break the waves than take drastic measures to maintain devilish heat.
But the leading characters of The Blue Room are morally unstable and are weak to the highs which come with hedonism. Both have spouses and lives to attend to, but they’re so seduced by the materialistic pleasures which come with standard hotel rendezvous that temptation proves to be an impossible thing to overcome. And being that most of the film takes place in flashback — its foundation is a police investigation concerning foul play — it’s guaranteed that, like the lies told to unsuspecting spouses, this is a film built on half-truths and general deception. It’s a mystery in which the narrator is about as trustworthy as a career criminal.
The Blue Room is Amalric’s first film wherein his talents are both reflected in front of and behind the camera. Obvious in watching the movie is that he’s just as intrigued by the darker sides of human nature as any casual consumer, and the feature is a catalyst for him to ponder how dangerous a thing pleasure can be and just how dangerous someone’s actions can be when they're seeking it. For that, the film is first-class, its cinematic intelligence best reflected by the way lurid interest always seems to be crawling under the immaculate, cool sheen of everything else.
But since the movie only runs at a brief 76 minutes — an amount of time uncommon in the medium unless we’re talking about Wes Craven’s Red Eye (2005) — it sometimes feels more like an exercise than the bleak character study it sometimes seems to strive to be. The movie, after all, isn’t about much more besides a torrid affair gone wrong, consequences and overall deceit as prevalent as the eye-catching style. But one wishes there were more meat on its bones, more opportunity for these characters to develop rather than merely stand as miserable sorts whose infidelity is purely a result of their own disaffection.
And yet The Blue Room is still remarkably assured. It’s undoubtable that Amalric, in addition to his already prolific acting credits, has a long, interesting directing career ahead of him. One only wishes The Blue Room had as much chutzpah as it did breezy, nihilistic style. But because its star, writer, and director is so effective in generating that aforementioned style, the film, for its brevity and its sometimes off-putting coolness, is worth a look. B