A love affair turns ugly in ‘Blue Room’

Tom Long
The Detroit News

‘The Blue Room” is a tight little look at love gone wrong, something of a stripped-down French “Gone Girl” without the surprises.

It’s also an obvious passion piece for star Mathieu Amalric (“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”), who deftly directs and co-wrote the screenplay based on Georges Simenon’s novel. What he’s come up with is a film that’s both teasing and elusive — it keeps you grasping for what’s going on and then leaves you vaguely unsure at the end.

Things begin in a blue hotel room where Julien (Amalric) is in the arms of his lover, Esther (Stephanie Cleau). Esther asks Julien if he could see spending his life with her, right after she’s bitten him and bloodied his lip. He cautiously answers in the affirmative.

Esther, it turns out, is married to a sickly but wealthy pharmacist. Julien, in turn, is wed to Delphine (Léa Drucker), with whom he has a daughter.

As the film progresses in flashbacks, interviews and interrogations, we realize Julien and Esther knew each other in high school, where she apparently had a crush on him. He moved away for 15 years, and when he returned, Esther initiated the affair.

We also realize something has gone wrong. Julien is accused of something, that’s plain — he’s being held in jail and questioned by a prosecutor. But there are only hints of the crime at the heart of this mystery until near the end.

It appears Julien has cooled on the affair. But he begins receiving cryptic notes from Esther, which he destroys. Eventually Esther’s husband dies. But Julien seems to love his wife and child.

Or does he? This is a film filled with mixed signals. Even as the story finally reveals itself, it’s hard to know who did precisely what, though Julien seems more stunned by his fate than guilty.

But Amalric leaves a nice, unsettling question mark hovering at the film’s end. In love, anything can happen, and you may never know why it did.


‘The Blue Room’


Not rated

Running time:

76 minutes

“The Blue Room” (Not rated) Mathieu Amalric directed, co-wrote and stars in this tight and elusive little mystery about an affair that goes wrong based on the novel by Georges Simenon. (76 minutes) GRADE: B