Reviews of Recent Independent, Foreign, & Documentary Films in Theaters and DVD/Home Video

Dina Korzun as Laura
Rip Torn as Alan
Photo: First Look

FORTY SHADES OF BLUE
Directed by: Ira Sachs.
Produced by: Margot Bridger, Ira Sachs, Mary Bing, Jawal Nga & Donald Rosenfeld.
Written by: Michael Rohatyn & Ira Sachs.
Director of Photography: Julian Whatley.
Edited by: Affonso Gonçalves.
Music by: Dickon Hinchliffe.
Released by: First Look.
Country of Origin: USA. 108 min. Not Rated.
With: Rip Torn, Dina Korzun & Darren Burrows.

With a domineering presence evocative of a King Lear, Alan (Rip Torn), a prominent music producer of the '60s, is the waning yet respected figure in the soul/rock-and-roll music circle of Memphis. This world is seen through the eyes of Alan's very own live-in Russian arm candy, Laura (Dina Korzun). A perpetual alien in a world she has no connection to, Laura's daily life consists of routines she performs with a singular sense of duty: she looks after Alan, takes their three-year-old son to school, and carefully adorns herself with the classiest of makeup and dresses when going out. Her broken English limits her to robotic conversations with Alan and everyone else around her - she is often left alone at parties until she goes home by herself, leaving Alan to his night of womanizing. Even then, comparing her current life to the one she left in Russia, she tells herself, "I have no right to complain."

All that changes when Alan's estranged adult son Michael (Darren Burrows) returns home for a tribute to his father. Though initially resentful of Alanís much younger girlfriend, a growing attraction between Michael and Laura boils below the surface. While the film smartly downplays its melodramatic moments, the love-triangle plot makes Burrows' role seem like a convenient catalyst for Laura's self-realization than a substantial character.

Nevertheless, Forty Shades of Blue's uniquely naturalistic camerawork is both observational as it is visually telling, revealing more layers of emotions and intentions in this film than meets the eye. Thanks to Korzun's hauntingly minimalist performance, the viewer is as surprised as Laura is when she finally realizes her true feelings, causing her to question her entire life. Torn is equally compelling as he catapults Alan from blissfully unaware to tragically inept. The pacing may seem plodding, but it is because director Ira Sachs takes his time that his portrayal of unfulfilled and repressed desire is arresting as it is realistic. Marie Iida
September 28, 2005

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