Thursday, March 1, 2018

The Blue Hour (1971)

It’s not fun to bag on The Blue Hour, because it represents a fairly serious attempt to expand cinema language while probing the emotional life of a disturbed young woman. The film’s directors, Sergei Goncharoff and Ron Nicholas, use fragmented editing to dislodge the viewer’s sense of time and place, and they intercut different events to suggest psychological correlations. None of this was new in 1971, by which point the French New Wave had already influenced many American filmmakers, but Goncharoff and Nicholas go way beyond flashy jump cuts. Unfortunately, The Blue Hour not only murky but also laughably pretentious: When the title appears onscreen, it’s accompanied by a French translation, L’Heure Bleu. Really, guys? Really? Oh, and there’s something else readers should know about The Blue Hour. It’s an X-rated skin flick. Yes, for all of the directors’ high-minded cinematic technique, the main selling points of The Blue Hour are softcore humping and a whole lot of female nudity. While screwing her boyfriend on a beach, buxom Tanya (Anne Chapman) freaks out by imagining (or hallucinating or remembering) a corpse. Then, over the course of long therapy-like conversations, she examines her difficult sexual past. While living in Greece, she was nearly raped by an uncle and then drove a young priest mad with lust. Later, she worked as a nude model, and clients sexually assaulted her. It’s all very heavy stuff, though the desired sense of portent is diminished by Chapman’s silly performance and by the directors’ tendency to aimlessly probe her body with their cameras. FYI, those who soldier through all 83 minutes of this strange picture will be startled to encounter future WKRP in Cincinnati costar Gordon Jump in one scene—fully clothed, thankfully.

The Blue Hour: LAME

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