Out of the Blue is so enamored with film noir tropes that the main character is not only an ex-convict but also a librarian who spends nights watching Turner Classic Movies. It’s never entirely clear whether the film he actually stars in is a straight-forward parody or a half-baked homage to those black-and-white staples, but there’s no question that writer-director Neil LaBute’s efforts don’t catch fire .
Set in the sleepy New England town of Twin Oaks (one of several deliberate nods to “The Postman Always Rings Twice”), the action takes place, where so little happens that the few residents who are ever charged with a crime are whispered like minor celebrities . One of them, Connor (Ray Nicholson), is the librarian who meets frustrated trophy wife Marilyn (Diane Kruger) when he goes jogging and she goes swimming. Their awkward flirtation quickly devolves into regular sexual encounters — complete with awkward exchanges (“You have such a beautiful face”…”I’m glad you like it”) that only remind us how far LaBute is from his late 90’s heyday as a playwright and indie film provocateur. Although it’s not entirely accurate to say that in a film stuffed with incessant, smug title cards like The Next Tuesday and Two or Three Weeks Later, everything happens quickly that mark the passage of time.
Marilyn, whose married surname Chambers once again seems to nod to both adult movie star and Postman, doesn’t have to try too hard to convince Connor that she’d be better off without her husband. And since Connor’s only other apparent human relationships are with his parole officer (Hank Azaria, who works overtime in a strangely aggressive role) and a cheeky Annie Hall-style colleague (Gia Crovatin), he’s falling deeper and deeper into the net, whatever Marilyn is spiders, proving he hasn’t learned anything from TCM.
A great femme fatale can elevate any noir, but the talented Kruger isn’t given much to work with here. It’s largely down to relative newcomer Nicholson (yes, he’s the son of Hollywood icon Jack, whose notable credits include the 1981 version of “Postman”) to shoulder the film’s admittedly light burden. After minor roles in Promising Young Woman and Licorice Pizza, he flashes the potential of a leading man.
‘Out of the blue’
Valuation: R, for sexual content, language and some violence
Duration: 1 hour 45 minutes
To play: Lumiere Cinema, Beverly Hills; also available as VOD
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/movies/story/2022-08-25/out-of-the-blue-review-noir-labute-kruger ‘Out of the Blue’ review: Tedious trap for film noir fans