The Blue Room (La chambre bleue)

The main mistake I made in going to see La chambre bleue (The Blue Room) is forgetting that The Boy cannot follow mystery/thrillers when they’re in a foreign language. Early on, I figured this was just a reading skill issue. The subtitles go by fast and thick, usually, when there’s a lot of plotting involved. (They just vanish to me after about 30 seconds so I usually can’t even remember if a film had subtitles a week after seeing it.)

Yeah, he had no clue what was going on. Which is okay, I guess. It’s not great. It’s not bad, either. Critics are piling on the love with a 90% RT while audiences—keeping in mind that we’re talking people who’d go see a subtitled French mystery in the first place—give it a more modest 68%. I’d incline more toward the audience score, I think.

It’s a brooding little film that takes place in flashbacks as Our Hero relates to the police the details of an affair he had with a Strange Woman Who Was Most Certainly Not His Wife. When we start, we just know that Something Has Transpired that is worthy of police attention; the details don’t come out until later.

Needless to say, it all ends in tears.

The points of interest revolve around the fact that Julien (Our Hero) is lying to the police in small, visible ways that are understandable but that also might conceal a larger part in the crimes committed, and that we are left to our own devices to suss out the motivations and feelings of the characters.

This, I believe, is what makes the critics like it, and audiences react less warmly.

Meanwhile, the movie resolves absolutely nothing. The events play out mostly in flashback, then there’s a trial, a verdict, and absolutely no indication of whether justice is reached, or what’s going on with the characters internally.

This, I believe, is also what makes the critics like it, and alienates the audience.

I don’t know. It’s a thing. To leave up the story resolution to the viewer. It’s arty. I kind of came out thinking that justice had not been done, but in fact, the guilty party had been allowed to skate free. I can’t really back it up, though. I see means, motive and opportunity for the true (in my mind) criminal but truth be told, there are many possible stories that may have happened here.

I didn’t find this particularly satisfying. I’m not a big fan of movies that are all denouement, as this one is, in the final analysis. But I didn’t hate it either. I did find it engaging. The acting is subtle but not pretentious.

Lotta Gallic noses and genitals.

Directed by and starring Matthew Amalric (The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Rabbi’s Cat), and starring newcomer Stéphanie Cléau as The Lover and Léa Drucker as The Wife.

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