Amalric’s adaptation of The Blue Room is an affair to remember

by Mark Burger

Julien Gahyde seemed to have it all “” a loving wife (Stéphanie Cléau), an adoring daughter (Mona Jaffart), a splendid house away from the city, and a gorgeous and similarly married mistress (Léa Drucker) with whom he trysts with in the titular “Blue Room” of a nearby hotel.

This seemingly idyllic arrangement has ended in a most dire fashion as police are now interrogating Julien after having been arrested for murder “” but whose murder?

Julien is played by Mathieu Amalric, who directed The Blue Room (La Chambre Bleue) and, with co-star Cléau, adapted it from Georges Simenon’s novel. As the director, Amalric has methodically rearranged the sequence of the film’s events to fashion a tricky, tantalizing treat for mystery fans. It’s a whodunit in reverse, until the midway point when a bombshell plot development (best unrevealed here) propels it forward to its conclusion.

As an actor, Amalric resists histrionics and deftly allows his pained face to reflect the emotional impact of his transgressions, whatever they might be. It’s a performance both low-key and dominant, though not so dominant to overwhelm the important contributions of Drucker, Cléau, and Laurent Poitrenaux as the investigating magistrate.

By staying one step ahead “” and by not wasting time (the movie runs a trim 75 minutes) “” Amalric keeps the audience’s attention focused on the mystery with a shrewd, cool expediency that packs a little wallop. (In French with English subtitles)

The Blue Room is scheduled to open Friday at Carousel Cinemas, Greensboro !

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