Film Review: Out Of Blue

Writer-director Carol Morley’s Out of Blue is an atmospheric mystery. Although it is imperfect, the film has enough to commend it.

A the body of a prominent astrophysicist is found in an observatory. Detective Mike Hoolihan leads the investigation, and finds herself more involved than expected…

Based on Martin Amis’ Night Train, Carol Morley offers a decent hook with Out of Blue. Viewers are presented with a grisly crime scene, and a detective intent into solving the case. The mystery in the film is multi-layered. There is the mystery of identity of the killer, and this is the focus of Morley’s film for the first half.

When the mystery is seemingly solved, protagonist Mike refuses to stop investigating, focusing on the Rockwell family. The further, more ethereal mystery is Mike’s connection to the case. Morley presents what seems to be visions, keeping viewers guessing as to exactly what Mike is seeing and hearing.

Protagonist Mike Hoolihan is well drawn. A hardboiled detective, who is also a recovering alcoholic, Mike at first seems like an archetype. Yet she develops into a much more three-dimensional character as narrative progresses. Her relentlessness is both endearing and frustrating. The cast of characters is a highlight of Out of Blue. The minor characters, sometimes eccentric, provide a good contrast to the sombre personalities of Mike and the other detectives. 

The first third of Out of Blue is holds the attention. The crime and the investigation is engaging as the cast of characters is revealed. There is a bit of a sag in the middle section of the film, once the crime has been solved yet Mike will not let go of the case. The film recovers from this in the final act, as Mike starts to draw conclusions, and act on them. Although it is signposted much earlier, the climax of the film is still satisfying.

Performances in the film are good all round. Patricia Clarkson makes a believable weathered detective, whilst Jacki Weaver and James Caan stand out as the victim’s parents. Devyn A. Tyler is also decent in a supporting role. The use of music does a great deal to create atmosphere.

With The Falling and now Out of Blue, Carol Morley is carving out a niche in mysterious with an otherworldly feel. It will be interesting to see what she tackles next.

Out of Blue is out on DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital on 2nd September 2019.

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