Wednesday, August 24, 2022

More Neo-noir, fewer thrills


Writer/director Neil LaBute came out of the gate fast, wowing Sundance audiences with the severely caustic In the Company of Men (1997).  LaBute has been working steadily since, plying his trade in movies, theater, and TV. Few writers can turn a line of dialogue into a punch to the face better than LaBute and his movies usually are worth an argument or two. So, it was with modest expectations that I approached Out of the Blue, LaBute's latest entry into the Neo-noir sweepstakes. Ray Nicholson plays Conor, the potential sap in a drama in which his character -- an ex-con working as a librarian -- falls for a supposedly irresistible seductress (Diane Kruger).  Hank Azaria makes intermittent appearances as Conor's parole officer, Gia Crovatin signs on as one of Conor's library co-workers, and Chase Sui Wonders portrays the stepdaughter of Kruger's character. Nicholson and Kruger fail to generate the requisite heat, Azaria's character seems out of place, and most audiences easily will guess which way LaBute wants the noir winds to blow. Those expecting end-of-picture twists will find them but Out of the Blue neither sings nor stings. Insertion of titles between segments (perhaps intended as humorous) slows things down as LaBute works his way through a kickless tale of murder, gullibility, and deceit.

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