Haunting Detective Story
In Out of Blue, recovering alcoholic Mike Hoolihan may also have some memory glitches, but she’s a good enough detective to be assigned an important murder investigation. The victim happens to be renowned astrophysicist Jennifer Rockwell, daughter of a prominent New Orleans electronics icon. These key roles are played by Patricia Clarkson, Mamie Gummer, and James Caan, respectively. What a perfect acting trifecta for this unusual mystery!
It’s unusual because the detective’s personal story assumes more importance than the search for a killer. The film also fascinated me because of its dreamlike, neo-noir feeling and the added layer of cosmology as a backdrop to the crime. Eerie background music and atmospheric cinematography helped draw me into Mike’s world. And use of “I’ll Be Seeing You” in critical scenes really got to me because it’s one of my favorite songs.
Clarkson’s fans will probably be surprised by her “Mike Hoolihan” appearance. At least I was. She looks completely different with dark hair and a haggard face. But that’s what Mike should look like. Suffering from alcoholism and some amnesia, Mike harbors serious problems of her own. Clarkson loses the Southern Belle demeanor she did so well in TV’s “Sharp Objects” and adopts an almost extremely opposite persona for this enigmatic character.
Gummer excels as the philosophical scientist who believes “the universe lives within us.” And Caan makes us wonder if the victim’s grieving father could be someone else entirely.
Other cast members provide strong support, including: Jacki Weaver as the victim’s bewildered mother; Toby Jones as the suspicious observatory manager; Jonathan Majors as Jennifer’s uncooperative boyfriend; and Devyn A. Tyler as an overly curious T.V. reporter.
Out of Blue is based on Martin Amis’ novel Night Train. Carol Morely wrote the screen adaptation and directed the film. Although I haven’t read Night Train, I think Morely did an excellent job tying together so many difficult elements. My only complaint involves the strip club sequence, which didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the movie.
Universe, stars and mystery
all work to cast a spell on me.
It happens watching Out of Blue,
a film noir of another hue.
Solving the crime takes second place.
Detective’s handling of this case
triggers images of her past.
Is she remembering, at last?
Patricia Clarkson has this role
and downplays it -- but with such soul.
Don’t expect a regular noir.
That’s not what you are paying for.
This movie offers something new.
If you want that, see Out of Blue
(Released by IFC Films and rated “R” by MPAA.)
For more information about Out of Blue, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.