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Forty Shades of Blue (Unrated)

Release Date: September 28th, 2005 (NYC-Film Forum)
The Cast: Rip Torn, Dina Korzun, Darren Burrows, Paprika Steen, Red West
Directed by Ira Sachs.

BASIC PREMISE: When his estranged son Michael (Burrows) arrives, Alan's (Torn) relationship is threatened with his much younger girlfriend, Laura (Korzun).

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Rip Torn gives an surprisingly good performance as Alan, a father who is going through a mid-life crisis along with his girlfriend. This is especially a good come-back for him after a few years of playing in comedies like Dodgeball, Men in Black, Welcome to Mooseport, and Freddy Got Fingered (if you even want to call that a comedy). In this film, he is given enough material to stretch his character along a range of emotions-he can even convincingly cry. The real find here, though, is Dina Korzun who not only gives a strong performance as the confused and lonely Laura, but also has plenty of personality and genuine beauty. There is no chemistry between her and Alan, but that is understandable because their relationship had been falling apart even before Alan's son Michael arrives. Darren Burrows gives a mediocre performance, but he is not the main character because he is simply between two older people who are struggling with their lonely lives. Writer-director Ira Sachs does a very good job of showing how lonely and sad Alan and Laura are without going overboard. The plot moves along at a very slow pace, but that just enhances the realism of each scene. The cinematography also adds to the realism by capturing the quiet moments of each scene without any jolty camera movements. Even a scene without dialogue is filled with a lot of emotion. Even though these characters are going through difficult and even sad moments in their lives, it is easy to care about them because they are neither good not bad--they are just very human because of all of their flaws. These complex characters, along with two emotionally-strong perfomances, make for a surprisingly engaging film.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: There are a few moving scenes between Alan and Michael, but also just Laura alone as she shows her mixed emotions with her facial expressions. Although he did have a successfull career as a rock star in the past, Alan is suddenly forced to confront the reality that he is a bad father to Michael. However, that does not make him a bad person. This film suggests that the sad part of life is that even when you are with somebody--even if you are not alone--you can still be lonely. It takes more than a spoonfull of sugar to make that medicine go down, but that's just what makes this film even more moving and thought-provoking.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Minimal and predictable plot.


THE BOTTOM LINE: Despite a slow pace and a simple, unsurprising plot, there are enough great performances along with complex characters, realistic cinematography, and scenes that are true-to-life to make this a very moving film that is never boring. Those who are the most patient movie-goers will be the most rewarded by this film.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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