Out Of Blue (2019)
SHOULD I SEE IT?
Out Of Blue is certainly unique and mixes together a common police procedural, with some David Lynch, and existential grief and anxiety sprinkled in for seasoning.
The film’s reaps the benefits of having a great cast of character actors who keep the characters odd curiosities we pay attention to.
The movie commits to a super-serious, yet laughably nebulous discussion of the universe and existentialism that actually made me kind of like this oddball little film more than most.
Slow burning, with random bursts of existential ennui, jibber-jabber about celestial beings and the universe at large, all while we are trying to investigate who may have murdered an astrophysicist - this is going to try some people’s patience hard.
Does it make any sense at all? I have no idea.
Martin Amis’ novel was a dark comedy, Out Of Blue is not and that commitment to being serious could be another downfall with interested viewers.
Say what you will about Out of Blue, but Carol Morley’s new film is definitely one puzzling oddity. Set in a bleak, dark New Orleans, the film gives us the initial appearances of a straight-up murder mystery, in the same vein as something you’ve likely watched on “Law & Order”, “CSI,” or any number of police crime procedural shows on television.
We see a young astrophysicist, Jennifer Rockwell (Mamie Gummer), giving a speech on top of an astrological observatory about celestial connections and stars and our place in the universe. Minutes later, she will be found dead, face down in a pool of her own blood, the victim of a gunshot wound which “blew her face off.”
First to respond is homicide detective Mike Hoolihan (Patricia Clarkson), who is instantly struck by discoveries at the crime scene. A sock. A jar of opened moisturizing cream. Jennifer’s body positioned under an opening in the observatory roof. As Mike begins piecing all of the clues together, she will end up meeting a series of potential suspects and peripheral characters who make her question her instincts and techniques.
Along the way, Mike encounters colleagues of Jennifer’s, including boyfriend Duncan (Jonathan Majors), who tearfully asks “Why?” when he learns of his girlfriend’s murder. Her supervisor, Ian (Toby Jones), has a bizarre bruising lump on the left side of his face. A news reporter, Stella Honey (Devyn A. Tyler), drifts in and out of the story, and Mike begins having physical pain, blackouts, and hallucinations the deeper into the investigation she goes.
And that doesn’t even get us to the long ruminations on how we are made from the celestial origins of stars, and the half-hearted use of Schrödinger's cat, a flirtation with quantum physics, and Mike’s boozy bouts with alcohol and conversations with people who may or may not be with her in real life.
Out of Blue is a lot of things, and for some (many, I suppose) this could be an overthought, out-of-reach, tonal misfire. I cannot argue against people responding that way. More than once (okay, a few times) I was left scratching my head and checking my notes and then just mentally shrugging and moved along.
And yet, I was hooked.
Perhaps it’s from the lived-in, hollowed out performance from Clarkson, who looks perpetually tired and overwhelmed the further her investigation goes. Then again, it could be that Morley’s far-ranging, rudderless screenplay is never predictable, and some of the long pontificating on cosmology and existential spirituality is flat out silly. Perhaps I responded to this movie having zero you-know-what’s-to-give as it moved along and built its own wacky world to operate in.
Out of Blue has some David Lynch-style dalliances (because of course it does…) and it becomes somewhat incomprehensible by the end. And although I have torn apart other movies for being so unfocused and meandering, Out of Blue never fully pushed me aside.
Morley is definitely a filmmaker who seems to refuse to compromise her vision, so even if she, and only she, fully understands where her movie is going, Out of Blue might be one of the only metaphysical, existential, murder mysteries you’ll ever see.
CAST & CREW
Starring: Patricia Clarkson, Toby Jones, Mamie Gummer, Jacki Weaver, James Caan, Devyn A. Tyler, Yolonda Ross, Aaron Tveit, Jonathan Majors, Brad Mann, Todd Mann, Bri Collins.
Director: Carol Morley
Written by: Carol Morley
Based on the novel “Night Train” by Martin Amis
Release Date: March 22, 2019