FORTY SHADES OF BLUE (Ira Sachs). 108 minutes. Opens Friday (January 27) at the Royal Cinema. See Indie & Rep Film Listings for details. Rating: NN Rating: NN
The same tactics that make this low-key, naturalistic portrait of alienation succeed as a mood piece ensure its failure as a drama.
The simple story -- young, beautiful, live-in Russian girlfriend ( Dina Korzun ) of aging, crass Memphis record producer ( Rip Torn ) has fling with his morose son ( Darren Burrows ) -- gets little elaboration and reduces its supporting characters to one-note clichés.
So we spend our time in contemplation of the beautiful and talented Korzun as she wanders sadly and stiffly through director Ira Sachs 's isolating compositions -- most of them involving malls and cheap restaurants. She also spends time not responding to the Memphis soul music that surrounds her -- possibly the first filmic use of that music as an alienation device.
Russian actor Korzun (Last Resort) is watchable and does much with little. But the roots of her unease are laid bare at once: her man is faithless, and culturally she's a fish out of water, so there's really nowhere for her to go with the character.
The material is full of dramatic tension, but Sachs doesn't pay it off, and the climax, though in keeping with the tone, is disappointing.