Thursday, April 19, 2012

Wishes and Choices

Kesenia Rappoport and Filippo Timi in The Double Hour

Second chances can be rare, difficult to recognize, and hard to grasp. “The Double Hour” (La Doppia Ora), by director Giuseppe Capotondi, explores what second chances mean to us. To do this, he brings together two lonely souls, Guido, an ex-cop, and Sonia, a half-Slovenian, half-Italian hotel chambermaid. They meet at a speed-dating evening in Turn, where Guido is a regular. Sonia, who was present at the suicide of a hotel guest earlier in the day, is shaken and finds her first try at speed-dating overwhelming, one man after another trying to make an impression in just a few minutes before moving on to the next woman. Her suitors range from dull to profane. Guido’s guileless gloom touches something in her. The two are immediately drawn together.

Guido (Filippo Timi), widower, failed cop, and, it is hinted, alcoholic, is marking time, unable to connect directly with anyone. His hobby is sound recording; he uses a shotgun microphone to record sound, distancing him from the world around him while lending him some illusion of connection. The film’s name refers to a superstitious game he mentions to Sonia. When the hour and minutes of the time match (this works much better if one uses a 24-hour clock, as in Europe), it’s a “double hour” and one can make a wish. Sonia asks him if it works. He answers “no” with the certainty of one who has tried it innumerable times. Sonia (Ksenia Rappoport), left Slovenia when her mother died, trying to live with her father and his new family, but moved on when that didn’t work. Both are rootless and tentative, seeking a shelter in the broken places they both inhabit. Chance intervenes, however, with further loss.

It is at this point that the film addresses the question of how we deal with loss. Rappoport’s Sonia reels, effectively, between depression and mania, trying to work out her connection to Guido. Does the double hour hold power? Can it bring us back to a time and place we wish to be? Sonia finds herself in a world where the familiar seems alien and the choices we make carry more weight than our wishes to undo them. Timi’s Guido is more taciturn and restrained. He knows that wishes are not granted, however much one would hope. All we can do is choose to rebuild with the broken pieces we have, if we are brave enough. If we get our wish, what will we do with it?

The world Guido and Sonia inhabit is well-photographed but never showy. It captures the mood well, imparting a slight sense of longing, hinting that there is just a little something more we can’t see, a connection waiting to be made.

Loss, longing, love, hope, and fear drive so much of our lives, whether consciously or not, that The Double Hour should resonate with anyone who has had a moment of doubt or introspection. When the double hour comes, it will be our choice what to do with it.

Rating: 5/5

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