★★★★ – Little White Lies
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Better known as one of the most distinctive actors of French cinema, Mathieu Amalric is also an accomplished filmmaker whose glitzy, comedic On Tour (2010) secured the Best Director award at Cannes. In an altogether different register, The Blue Room is a compact adaptation, by Amalric and co-star Stéphanie Cléau, of Belgian writer Georges Simenon’s psychological novel. Amalric plays Julien, a successful business owner, discontented husband and father who, at the outset, is absorbed in an impassioned affair with married pharmacist Esther (Cléau).
Deftly employing a nonlinear structure, the film jumps ahead in time, moving briskly out of the couple’s sequestered hotel room to a procedural in which Julien is being questioned about a serious, but as yet unidentified crime. Withholding details of what exactly has taken place allows much of this story’s intrigue to lurk in the shadows, ensuring its chilling effects endure long after the credits roll. (Notes by Alice Butler.)
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