Short Takes: The Double Hour
By Laura Kern
(Giuseppe Capotondi, Italy, 2009)
Within the unpredictable world of The Double Hour, speed dating results in the inverse: dating on speed. A regular attendee of these mystifying yet strangely cinematic hook-up events, widower Guido (Filippo Timi) finally makes a promising love connection with Sonia (Ksenia Rappoport), a Slovenian chambermaid new to Turin. “I wasn’t ready for you,” he admits to her shortly after they meet. It’s truer than he knows—he has no idea what’s in store. What begins as a sweet romance between two lost souls—naturally acted by Timi and especially Rappaport, who carries much of the film with her expressive face alone—soon escalates out of control, as the pair face violent interruptions, duplicitous dealings, suspicious cops, bouts of unconsciousness, ghosts, you name it.
If the above recap sounds a little vague, it’s meant to be. To reveal specific details would be to ruin the pleasures of viewing music-video veteran Giuseppe Capotondi’s nifty cross-genre feature debut. Showing special attention to sound design and, as the title suggests, the play of time—key revelations happen at calculated points in the telling of the story—it’s an expertly crafted work (Capotondi has cited Cassavetes, Polanski, and early Argento as influences). The Double Hour throws a new curveball every few minutes, but even at its most jarring, faster than you can say, “Oh, come on, really!” it outwits you yet again.