What starts off as a dramatic piece about a love affair between two married people in a small French town turns into a murder mystery as the story unfolds. Julien meets up with an old school friend after many years and she is the towns pharmacist, Esther is married to a wealthy local in bad health, and the sexual affair between them isn’t enough so after her husband dies she wants more but Julien is still in love with his wife.
The running time for this film is 76 minutes, and you ask yourself, I’m talking Euros here, its ten Euros to see this 76 minutes or the same cost for a film that is 180 minutes long. Where is the value? The answer is the value is in the performances and the editing of this film. There are no scenes that overstay their welcome, and every scene serves the purpose of the story. If I see one more film with ten minute sequences of wheat blowing in the wind and a Director telling us that this shot symbolises something I’ll scream, I’ll actually scream. Just admit that you left the damn camera on and edit that out of the film. The Blue Room is magnificent in its shortness. It strikes the cords that it needs to, drops the microphone, and lets you go about your business. A less assured Director would meander on and on with arty shots while here Mathieu Amalric directs and stars knowing how to deliver in both areas.
Amalric, some of you know him from the Bond movie Quantum of Solace, plays Julien, torn between the excitement of his affair and the love of his wife and daughter. We learn that something has happened in his life because of this affair. We cut through the story until the trial. Playing Esther is Stephanie Cleau, Esther is a beautiful woman who seems to live for the moments she spends with Julien and is unable to see that the promises that he makes during and just after their love-making have nothing to do with any future reality that Julien can promise. There is a wonderfully fragile performance from Lea Drucker as Julien’s wife.
The film is told through the interviews with Julien by the different law enforcement officials in France. We see a successful and confident man slowly being broken down by the crime or crimes that have been committed in the name of this torrid affair. We slowly learn the fate’s of each of the players as we are lead to the trial and for the sake of two minutes that could have been added a little more of the trial would have been nice. But it’s not really needed as Amalric must believe that we can use our brains and leaves so much for us to make our own minds up and create in our imaginations. This is a French language Hitchcock film for the new century, creative editing and enchanting score, the whole film is just gripping entertainment and shows how, to the two involved, a harmless affair can lead to devastating consequences. We see their day-to-day lives, they are just ordinary people doing ordinary things with the deception of the affair in the background making simple things just a little more complicated. The crime that has been committed you can guess at but you actually create the circumstances in your head more than they are seen, it was nice to have that feeling that the film maker trusted that we can think.
I love going to the cinema and seeing the three-hour epic, once the story and performances can fill the time, here in The Blue Room a complex and honest story of how someone can pick apart your life manages to punch you quickly and leave the room, while still having you remember the impact of the story for the next two days. Fans of Hitchcock please check this out, in its essence is showing that Almalric is someone who could be the modern equivalent of the great Alfred.