Blue Room, The: Mathieu Amalric’s Film Noir

Cannes Film Fest 2014–A twisted film noir, Mathieu Amalric’s adaptation of Georges Simenon’s domestic crime novel also tips its hat to Alfred Hitchcock/Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train. 

A country hotel’s blue room is the scene of erotic rapture, but the adulterous man (Amalric) and woman (a boldly sexual Stéphanie Cléau, co-author of the script with Amalric) who meet there have different visions of their future. She is more obsessed than he, and his misunderstanding of the madness in her desire will destroy him and all he holds dear.

Amalric’s direction is spare, as is his performance of a man caught in a vise-a situation of his own making. The classic aspect ratio (1:33) and Grégoire Hetzel’s turbulent, insistent score heighten the sense of entrapment. Léa Drucker as the deceived wife and Cléau as the desperate mistress make strong impressions, but Amalric, who has the most eloquent eyes in contemporary cinema and uses them here to convey lust, guilt, bewilderment, and the dawning realization that he is a pawn in a malignant game, is unforgettable.

Premiered in Un Certain Regard section of this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Opens on October 3 through Sundance Selects.