Sonia (Ksenia Rappoport), a young woman from Eastern Europe, has recently moved to the northern industrial town of Turin. She wants to find a boyfriend so she signs up for a speed-dating service – facing the blunt and the sleazy – until she meets Guido (Filippo Timi), an ex-cop turned security guard who has been making the rounds of the singles' scene for a while. Against all odds, the two hit it off and a romance quickly develops.
A 'double hour' shows on a clock as, say, 23:23PM. In this psychological thriller, the double hour is loaded with significant dread. Here, bad things happen at the double hour; characters who are supposed to be dead, turn out to be alive. For the movie’s heroine, Sonia (Kseniya Rappoport), a hotel chambermaid, the revelations that emerge at the double hour are 'visions’ of things left undone, which is to say, they represent a bad conscience.
Giuseppe Capotondi’s film is a dark and gloomy piece. It’s got violence, but the bloodletting is delivered here not quite in the style of a turn-on. It’s got sex, but it’s shot in a way that emphasises the exertions of the act; any pleasure the characters may derive from it seems incidental. But the real cue to the movie’s miserable disposition is in the film’s murky look; all the actors appear so pale and wan they could have loped into this from a zombie movie.
This is one of those thrillers which is diabolical and diabolically difficult to describe in any truly meaningful way in a review. This is because much of its incidental pleasures derive from surprise; since the narrative is so full of reversals, twists and things-that-might-be-true-but-may-not-be, any attempt to describe its action in detail is truly treacherous. So what follows must be cryptic.
The plot starts off as a romance. Sonia gets off with a night watchman called Guido (Filippo Timi) but before anyone can say 'can we still be friends," the relationship is soured by a third party. What follows is a maze of storylines that feed into a standard set of thriller tropes; there’s a copper chasing a murderer, and innocent characters set up to take the 'fall’ for the villain. The script by Alessandro Fabbri, Ludovica Rampoldi and Stefano Sardo is a sort of variation on the Hitchcock model of thriller where the plot becomes a metaphor for the psychological dilemma that bedevils the hero.
In The Double Hour, Sonia is lonely; she meets Guido through 'speed dating’. This is a neat variation on the idea of the fateful chance encounter. (Though in thrillers like this, there is no such thing as 'chance’; every line, cut, and moment has some kind of meaning.) Still, for all of the film’s smarts, The Double Hour ultimately feels a little thin; part of this is because unlike, say, Hitchcock, Capotondi’s film doesn’t seem to want to dig too deep into the murkiness of Sonia’s world. Obsession, perception, relative morality aren’t story values to be tested, investigated and explored – they’re plot devices.
In the end, The Double Hour has the visceral impact of, say, mystery TV. Not very memorable at all, really.