'Double Hour' a thrilling debut for Italian director Capotondi

Filippo Timi and Ksenia Rappoport portray lovers in troublein director Giuseppe Capotondi's first feature.

A beautiful, head-spinning mystery that requires keen attention - and rewards it with a tricky and poetic payoff - The Double Hour is a topflight Euro thriller right up there with Tell No One. Italian director Giuseppe Capotondi, a commercial and video guy clearly schooled in Hitchcock, early Polanski, and the classic noirs (especially Fritz Lang's The Woman in the Window), makes an astounding feature debut that pulls the rug out from under its lead character - and from the audience.

That character is Sonia (Russian actress Ksenia Rappoport), a sad-eyed Slovenian émigré to Turin. She works as a hotel chambermaid, and, as The Double Hour begins, she has to contend with the haunting departure of one of the hotel's guests. At a speed-dating event, she meets Guido (Filippo Timi), an ex-cop who works as a security guard at an elegant private villa on the outskirts of town. Something clicks as the two trade introductory, exploratory chatter. It's not long before they fall into a serious romance - and serious trouble.

It would be irresponsible to say another word about what happens between Sonia and Guido. Trust me, though - you'll want to find out.

Rappoport and Timi won the best-acting awards at the 2009 Venice Film Festival for their efforts. Their work on screen is subtle and smart and absolutely pitch-perfect. On one level, The Double Hour is a love story, and a story of forgiveness and trust and second chances. On another level, it's a psychological puzzle, pulsing with suspense.

There may come a point in The Double Hour when you find yourself feeling toyed with, manipulated, perhaps even betrayed. But let things sit with you a while, and consider the implications and resonances in this labyrinthine plot.

There's more here than meets the eye.

Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or srea@phillynews.com. Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/onmovies/


The Double Hour (La doppia ora)

Directed by Giuseppe Capotondi. With Giorgio Colangeli, Filippo Timi, Roberto Accornero, Ksenia Rappaport, Giampiero Judica, Lorenzo Gioielli, Federica Cassini, Michele Di Mauro, Barbara Braconi, Gaetano Bruno. Distributed by Samuel Goldwyn Films.

Running time: 1 hours, 45 minutes.

Parent's guide: Unrated ().