Film Review – The Blue Room

The Blue Room

The Blue Room

A mundane mystery, The Blue Room tries to be more exciting with quick edits and a long wait for the reveal. Julien (Mathieu Amalric), a successful agriculture businessman, is having an affair with the local pharmacist’s wife, Esther (Stéphanie Cléau). When we start, we see them making love and talking about if they could actually be a couple permanently. Then Julien sees Esther’s husband coming toward their hotel and leaves, worried that they will be caught. We then jump ahead and Julien is now being interrogated by the police about something. We know a crime has been committed, but is he the accused? Is he simply a witness to what has happened? If something has happened to someone who is it?

These questions are left unclear for a long time. In the meantime, we continually cut back to him after he left the room, going about his life, and then back to the interrogation. Back and forth this goes, with the interrogation acting as a narration to what we are seeing. Mostly, it is simply his regular life with his wife Delphine (Léa Drucker) and small daughter being at home, and him trying to avoid seeing Esther again. Why is this? Even he doesn’t know. Perhaps he wants a break, or just fears the husband will find out, or just doesn’t want to risk his wife finding out. Whatever the reason, we now see him trying to keep his life together in the aftermath.

Blue Room Movie Still 1

The major events from the start are greatly diminished because the cuts are so close together they become a huge distraction. You start to wish they would just stick with something for a while to allow you to get your bearings. Eventually, the film starts to create more of a rhythm to the way the cuts happen, but it actually becomes more of an issue because so much of what is happening is really dull. It is Julien at work, or out with the family with the investigators adding their own theories or interpretations to how Julien describes the events? All in all, as what happens starts to come together, it ends up being rather uneventful.

Finding out everything that happens wasn’t so much a shock or interesting as it was more a “Oh, okay. So, now what?” There was nothing inherently interesting about the case on its own and as a result, the time we spent getting there feels like a waste. The fact that it was this slow in showing what happened with its editing tricks speaks more to an attempt to make this case feel more tense when really it just made things drag. It also gives us less time to feel anything since it takes forever to find out what the crime was and therefore give a sense of caring.

Nothing is revealed in the interim that makes what Julien is going through to be anything of remarkable interest. We see a few, what could be considered potentially “scary” moments with his wife that give a sense that the case could have something to do with her, but nothing that gives Julien a deeper sense of character. As we see the flashbacks, we assume this is a reliable narration of things that have happened, even when what he is telling the investigators does not always match. Even then, what he tells them differently isn’t enough of a contrast to the images on screen to make his character more intriguing. It just appears to be something he is doing out of self-preservation and perhaps not unjustifiably, but he is so blank a character that it doesn’t register as being that important.

Blue Room Movie Still 2

By the end, everything is anticlimatic. After everything has become clear about what happens,, we still go on as we see the remainder of the case and the results of the investigation for another fifteen minutes! While there is a potential “twist” in that time, it is really going over everything we already know and getting predictable results. Even the “twist” is not very clear and may not even be a twist either way, as it still doesn’t make what happened more interesting.

As a mystery movie, it fails in the major job of giving us a hook to want to know what is happening. Director and star Mathieu Amalric wants to be artistic in trying to take a typical storyline and make it something different. Instead, it prolongs the situation without giving us anything to feel connected to until we just stop caring.




Benjamin is a film connoisseur and Oscar watcher who lives in Minneapolis and, when not reviewing movies, works at the Hennepin County Library.

You can reach Benjamin via email or on twitter

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