Plot twists are inherently risky. Over recent years, they have become much more complicated. Certain genres, like horror or thriller, naturally invite the convention to the point where inclusion instantly subjects the film to a battle with predictability. Mostly, the risk comes from the chance taken on losing the audience. Will the twist enhance or muddle the films intentions? Will the audience go along for the ride or will they disengage themselves? The Double Hour, the Giuseppe Capotondi’s debut film, shows promise, but loses itself within its labyrinthine twists.
A plot description for The Double Hour begs vagueness to keep this review relatively spoiler-free. Sonia (Kseniya Rappoport), a hotel maid who is somewhat withdrawn and solitary, attends a speed-dating event. She meets Guido (Felippo Timi) , an ex-cop and widower. They start up a relationship and everything is going well, until they are subject to a home invasion robbery that results in…well, you will have to find out yourself. Other figures in the plot are Sonia’s co-worker Margherita (Antonia Truppo), hotel regular Bruno (Fausto Russo Alesi) and detective Dante (Michele de Mauro).
As for the inner workings of The Double Hour, it is apparent the story was carefully considered outside its plotted nature. Through the twists and turns, a character-driven exploration of one person’s guilt is meant to be examined through the enhanced perspective said twists offer. There are moments when that deepened sense of guilt comes through nicely. The complex ambiguity of Sonia pays off as often as it does not. Yet the film gets lost, and everything is eventually stifled and fruitless. By the end, character development is suffocated by the complicated plot, when it is meant to have the opposite effect.
Theoretically, the twists force the audience to go back and rethink through the film, allowing for deeper and deeper examination of Sonia. The first twist changes what we think of Sonia thus far as we are asked to reshape our perception of her. The second twist is meant to do the same; enhance character development through the revelation. It is different from the first twist because Sonia and the audience learn it at the same time whereas Sonia is in on the initial twist. It is a jarring and risky move in which now Sonia and the audience have to, again, entirely reconfigure how the new situation at hand. The attempted leap falls short, making the film’s entire conceit unsatisfying. It also provides one simple explanation for a hell of a lot of intrigue it sets up, coming off as a cop-out, even though the middle section of the film would admittedly work better on a second viewing.
The Double Hour does not take enough of a stance in genre. It is rarely a detractor if a film does not line up cozily with a genre; in fact I welcome it. It is a detractor when the material is not strong enough to tell the story it wants to. It made me wish it threw itself much more heartily into its thriller origins so it had a grip on something specific. It dips its toes into many genres for a short period of time, but backs off too soon to establish anything of worth.
Finally, there is perhaps the central reason The Double Hour underwhelms and the main catalyst for the twists’ failures. The romance at its center is flat and uninspired despite the chemistry between the two leads. Both Sonia’s character development and the romance between her and Guido need to work in order for the twists to make have the intended impact. The former is moderately strong and the latter is too little too late. Without a relationship the audience is invested in, it becomes difficult to care, especially in the final third.
The only truly palpable reason to see The Double Hour, despite it being engaging enough to merit a look, is for Kseniya Rappoport’s performance. She makes the film almost single-handedly gripping. She is morose, racked with guilt, has hidden agendas and is appropriately vague in her emotions.
The twists in The Double Hour are too much, and the story becomes less and less investing as the film heads towards the end of its runtime. It does not do nearly enough in most aspects to have the kind of impact it strives towards. There is a lot of talent in Capotondi, but this is too unpolished, too undercooked to truly recommend as a whole. Remnants of a recommendation come mainly because of the beguiling performance from Rappoport.