Out of Blue
Carol Morley (The Falling, Dreams of a Life) directs this incoherent neo-noir, based on the 1997 Martin Amis novel Night Train, which bewilders more than it bedazzles. Patricia Clarkson is the recovering alcoholic Detective Mike Hoolihan, renowned for her crime solving abilities and tough exterior. In the words of her reporter friend Stella Honey, Hoolihan “detects the hell out of other people’s lives”, but her own remains “a mystery”.
Before we go diving into introspective angst, however, there’s a crime to solve. Genius astrophysicist Jennifer Rockwell, played by Mamie Gummer, has been slain, and some reckon it heralds the return of the elusive “38-calibre killer”, a serial killer who had gone quiet. There are other suspects though, including Jennifer’s boyfriend and her guilty-looking boss, Ian, played by Toby Jones, who is something of an expert in portraying suspect, shifty characters.
That bit of casting, as well as James Caan as Jennifer’s POW survivor dad, is almost the only thing that completely makes sense in a film that veers from generic whodunnit murder case thriller to a movie revolving around metaphysical introspection with alarming carelessness.
Viewers will probably want to be familiar with the feature’s inspiration before watching. However, as an adaptation, Out of Blue fails to capture the mystique of Amis’s novel. Hoolihan’s aloofness is a little too distant for us to make a real connection with her. This also gives her problems igniting any tangible chemistry with any other characters. The cast isn’t helped by a script unfit for the screen. Lines such as “you’re nothing but a cosmic disturbance” will make the audience laugh, not that they’re supposed to.
In spite of its incoherence, the film manages to keep spectators interested in the murder. But before things can get really engaging, the storyline shifts its focus, leaving the audience behind. At various points in the picture we catch Hoolihan cocking her head back in exasperation, exclaiming that “nothing makes sense”. No doubt many people watching will empathise.
A confused soundtrack works incongruously with some adept, sharp cinematography, one of the few features setting the movie apart from the average Law & Order episode. Alone, Out of Blue struggles to make much sense of itself, flirting with ideas that it’s unwilling to expand on, while as an adaptation, it falls far short of doing its inspiration justice.
Out of Blue is released in select cinemas on 29th March 2019.
Watch the trailer for Out of Blue here: