Film Review: Out Of Blue

Writer-director Carol Morley’s Out of Blue is an atmospheric mystery. Although it is imperfect, the film has enough to commend it.

A the body of a prominent astrophysicist is found in an observatory. Detective Mike Hoolihan leads the investigation, and finds herself more involved than expected…

Based on Martin Amis’ Night Train, Carol Morley offers a decent hook with Out of Blue. Viewers are presented with a grisly crime scene, and a detective intent into solving the case. The mystery in the film is multi-layered. There is the mystery of identity of the killer, and this is the focus of Morley’s film for the first half.

When the mystery is seemingly solved, protagonist Mike refuses to stop investigating, focusing on the Rockwell family. The further, more ethereal mystery is Mike’s connection to the case. Morley presents what seems to be visions, keeping viewers guessing as to exactly what Mike is seeing and hearing.

Protagonist Mike Hoolihan is well drawn. A hardboiled detective, who is also a recovering alcoholic, Mike at first seems like an archetype. Yet she develops into a much more three-dimensional character as narrative progresses. Her relentlessness is both endearing and frustrating. The cast of characters is a highlight of Out of Blue. The minor characters, sometimes eccentric, provide a good contrast to the sombre personalities of Mike and the other detectives. 

The first third of Out of Blue is holds the attention. The crime and the investigation is engaging as the cast of characters is revealed. There is a bit of a sag in the middle section of the film, once the crime has been solved yet Mike will not let go of the case. The film recovers from this in the final act, as Mike starts to draw conclusions, and act on them. Although it is signposted much earlier, the climax of the film is still satisfying.

Performances in the film are good all round. Patricia Clarkson makes a believable weathered detective, whilst Jacki Weaver and James Caan stand out as the victim’s parents. Devyn A. Tyler is also decent in a supporting role. The use of music does a great deal to create atmosphere.

With The Falling and now Out of Blue, Carol Morley is carving out a niche in mysterious with an otherworldly feel. It will be interesting to see what she tackles next.

Out of Blue is out on DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital on 2nd September 2019.

BFI London Film Festival 2018 Launch

Today saw the BFI London Film Festival 2018 launch. Now in its 62nd year, the festival is screening 225 feature films, including 21 world premieres. Here are some highlights from the festival programme…

Headline Galas

The Opening and Closing Gala films had already been announced. The BFI London Film Festival 2018 opens with Steve McQueen’s hotly anticipated Widows, starring Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, and Colin Farrell. McQueen co-wrote the  screenplay with Gillian Flynn. McQueen’s last film, 12 Years A Slave, screened at the 2013 London Film Festival to great acclaim. Stan & Ollie, which features John C. Reilly and Steve Coogan as the legendary comedy duo, closes the festival. Other headline galas include Luca Guadagnino’s hotly anticipated Suspiria, Jason Reitman’s The Front Runner, and Marielle Heller’s Can You Ever Forgive Me?. A particular highlight is Yorgos Lanthimos’ latest. The Favourite is about Queen Anne’s court, and stars Olivia Colman, Rachel Weiss, and Emma Stone. 

Strand Galas and Special Presentations

There are several great looking films in the Strand Galas and Special Presentation programmes. They include Barry Jenkins’ follow up to Moonlight, If Beale Street Could Talk, which is an adaption of James Baldwin’s novel. Others in this category include Lee Chang-dong’s thriller Burning, and Alfonso Caurón’s first film since Gravity, Roma, and Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. Special Presentations include Michael Moore’s Donald Trump documentary Fahrenheit 11/9, Carol Morley’s noir thriller Out of Blue, and George Tillman Jr.’s The Hate U Give. 

Official Competition

There are some big names in this year’s Official Competition. Films include David Lowery’s (A Ghost Story) The Old Man & The Gun starring Robert Redford, László Nemes’ (Son of Saul) Sunset, and Ben Wheatley’s Happy New Year, Colin Burstead – Wheatley’s Free Fire closed the 2016 festival. Also competing is Karyn Kusama’s Destroyer, starring Nicole Kidman. Meanwhile the Documentary Competition features Putin’s Witness (Svideteli Putina’s film featuring footage of Putin from 1999-2000) and Julien Faraut’s John McEnroe: In The Realm Of Perfection. First Feature Competition includes Isabella Eklöf’s Holiday and Paul Dano’s Wildlife. 

Strands

As in previous years, the eleven programme strands are back. Love features Fred Rogers documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, and the Sandra Hüller starring In The Aisles. Debate includes Oliver Assayas’ latest, Non-Fiction, starring Juliette Binoche and Guillaume Canet, and Catherine Corsini’s An Impossible Love. Laugh includes New Zealand comedy The Breaker Uppers, about two women running a relationship break-up service. Amongst the Dare programme is The Green Fog, which sees filmmakers Guy Maddin and Evan and Galen Johnson remake Vertigo using clips from other people’s films. Thrill includes Kim Nguyen’s The Hummingbird Project (starring Jesse Eisenberg and Alexander Skarsgård), while Cult features Nicolas Cage in Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy. 

Jessica Hynes directorial debut The Fight is part of the Journey strand, and Create includes Joan Jett documentary Bad Reputation. Richard Squires’ Doozy, which recreates the career of Hanna-Barbera’s villain actor Paul Lynde is one of the Experimenta films being screened. The Family strand features Linda Hambäck’s animated detective tale Gordon & Paddy. Finally, there are some great films being screened as part of the Treasures strand. These include Billy Wilder’s classic Some Like It Hot and Mae West in My Little Chickadee.

The BFI London Film Festival 2018 runs from 10th-21st October. The full programme can be viewed here.