Damn you, Internet film culture, and your inviolable laws governing spoilers. Understand, I think not disclosing spoilers is good manners, whether we're talking about critics or the guy in the next row. But sometimes a film like the Italian romantic thriller The Double Hour comes along, and I can't tell you in much detail what I think of it without ruining big surprises.
But I will try. As I see it, the revelations cooked up by director Giuseppe Capotondi and the three screenwriters aren't as shattering as they're meant to be. The problem is that a substantial chunk of the film amounts to a gigantic story cheat. Chaotic storytelling isn't a problem by definition, of course. I'm thinking of the incomprehensible, wonderful The Big Sleep. But midway through The Double Hour, first-time feature director Capotondi pulls a switcheroo that negates much of what has occurred and makes me not care a lot about what happens next.
The film chiefly concerns Sonia (Ksenia Rappoport, tense and frightened), a beautiful hotel chambermaid. She meets a former cop named Guido (somber Filippo Timi) at a speed-dating event, in a marvelous sequence that depicts speed dating as the dispiriting experience I imagine it to be. They become an item and start making love, smoking pot, walking and talking. When they visit the palatial estate where Guido is a security guard, masked hoods arrive to efficiently empty the place of everything valuable. There is a scuffle, and Guido is shot.
Next we see Sonia back at work, overcome by grief. In these scenes, there are satisfyingly creepy supernatural elements. A ghostly Guido appears on a security monitor. A photograph of something impossible turns up. An important song by the Cure plays in unlikely places.
Then comes an explanation that is jarringly literal-minded and not very satisfying. That's too bad, because The Double Hour's first couple of reels are pleasing - romantic and ominous. But when the film grasps at mind-fuckery, it disappoints.