Forty Shades of Blue

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An oblique drama which appears to be about a retired Memphis music producer and ends up being more about his much younger Russian, possibly cash-up-front, wife. Rip Torn plays Alan, the legend, blustering egomaniac and serial boozer whom everyone appears to idolise, on the surface at least. The remarkable Dina Korzun is Laura, the Russian import whose eyes tells us she’s dealt with far worse than Alan, but even so she wishes he’d treat her with a bit more respect. The film does little more than observe them as they go about their muted life… until Alan’s son, Michael (Darren Burrows) turns up to throw a metaphorical hand grenade into the mix. There’s a lot to like here – Rip Torn’s muted performance as the guy who’s seen better days, whose appalling behaviour is discounted on account of who he is. There’s not a shred of the comedy booming he delivered in Larry Sanders or Men in Black or Dodgeball. But as the film winds on, it’s the story of Laura that starts to assert itself. Because she’s still young enough to get out and change, if she’s prepared to give up life with Alan. Ira Sachs has made a film that can’t be half-watched, a quiet melodrama that seethes below the surface, where what’s not said is as important as what is. It’s the story of one man’s slide to oblivion but also about a woman standing at the gates of opportunity. The fact that the man is a record-biz mogul – an industry also on its knees – and an American at the end of the American century is surely not coincidental either.

Forty Shades of Blue – at Amazon

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© Steve Morrissey 2006

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