Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 400-Word Review: Out of Blue

There's plenty of ambition in this police procedural, but the results are mixed.




Photo courtesy IFC Films
 

The police procedural is ripe territory for some more thoughtful, inventive treatment. As entire television networks seem to dedicate themselves to unending ultramarathons of various hour-long cop dramas, the form has become so ubiquitous as to invite reinvention.

Carol Morley’s somber “Out of Blue,” a bleak modern noir set in New Orleans, imbues a relatively typical potboiler with cosmic resonances, an unreliable narrator and meditations on depression and addiction. It makes for a more thoughtful experience than the average “Law & Order” episode, to be sure. The film also overreaches, though, winding up a bit disappointing.

Maybe there’s a reason why they keep those hour-long dramas so simple. Thanks to a strong cast and some beautiful moments, “Out of Blue” isn’t utterly without merit — but I’m not sure it’ll linger long in my memory, either.

Detective Mike Hoolihan (Patricia Clarkson) is a stoic and an occasionally relapsing alcoholic. She’s also got a reputation for solving the unsolvable, and she’s got a doozy on her hands: Jennifer, the astrophysicist daughter (Mamie Gummer) of Colonel Tom Rockwell, a pillar-of-society war hero (James Caan), was found dead at her observatory, hours after giving a lecture. The chief suspects are her goody-two-shoes boyfriend (Jonathan Majors) and her slightly dodgy boss (Toby Jones), although the former has no clear motive and the latter has an alibi.

Hoolihan quickly stumbles toward the truth, but she keeps getting distracted by impossible coincidences, troubling visions and fainting spells — which may or may not be related to the cosmic mysteries that keep coming up in connection to the case, from Schrodinger’s Cat to the very fabric of reality.

With Clarkson handling her, Hoolihan is in good hands, even if the script doesn’t give her much to work with. Despite being a brilliant detective who has both seen a lot and lived a hard life, she reacts to big philosophical concepts with cliched ignorance. While the script (also by Morley) is desperate to tie her mental health, the mysteries of the crime and the music of the spheres together, those bonds are much more theoretical than observable.

I’m not familiar with the source material, the novel “Night Train” by Martin Amis, but some cursory research would indicate that it’s a satire. “Out of Blue” decidedly is not; if anything, it’s overly serious. Perhaps that explains the disconnect; a story conceived as somewhat tongue-in-cheek can’t usually survive a tonal jump.

My Rating: 5/10

“Out of Blue” plays March 22-28 at the Harris Theater.
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Penguins’ Lament: ‘To an Extent We Beat Ourselves’

The answer to a self-inflicted postseason sweep must begin with getting the players and their coach back on the same page regarding what’s required for survival in the playoffs.

Picklesburgh to Double in Size for Its Fifth Year

Nation’s top speciality food festival to spill out onto Ft. Duquesne Boulevard.

A Look at The Latest Restaurant Openings in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh says hello to Alta Via, Leo. A Public House, a new Milk Shake Factory location and more.

Is Your Pittsburgh Street on This Year's Road Repaving List?

The City of Pittsburgh has announced its street paving plan for 2019. You’re one click away from finding out if your street or route to work is on the list.

Watch: Pittsburgh Pirates Welcome You to Their Neighborhood

We thought this mashup of Mister Rogers and the Pittsburgh Pirates was perfect for sports fans searching for something to cheer about in the wake of the early end to the Penguins' season.

Downtown Pittsburgh Remains a Classic Rock Haven

PM intern Amanda Myers recounts the radio-rock adventures that life as a Downtown student has made possible.

The 400-Word Review: Master Z: Ip Man Legacy

The latest chapter in the Hong Kong martial-arts franchise gets a Pittsburgh release.

The 400-Word Review: The Curse of La Llorana

The latest chapter in the Conjuring franchise concerns a sinister spirit from folklore.

Details Shine in Metallic Hip-Hop Wedding

A graffiti-decorated cake, a sequined jacket for the groom and a violinist playing hip-hop covers wowed guests at this Strip District wedding.

New Restaurants Coming to Smallman Galley and Federal Galley

Look for New Mexican cuisine, customizable chicken and more as half of the Pittsburgh Galley Group concepts change in the next few months.

Design Goes to the Dogs with BARKitecture

Featuring innovative indoor animal shelters designed by local architects and artists going up for auction, the event at PerLora raises money for Animal Friends.

The 400-Word Review: Hellboy

The cult comic character gets a reboot in this R-rated action flick.

5 Best Spots to Hang Out with Your Dog

For those who can’t stand the idea of leaving their dogs home alone on a beautiful day, these dog-friendly stores, restaurants and bars in the Pittsburgh area welcome humans and canines alike.

The 400-Word Review: The Silence

Netflix's new horror film has a plot unfortunately similar to a giant hit. Can it succeed in spite of that bit of bad luck?

Popular Fried Chicken and Beer Hall Landing in Pittsburgh

The Cincinnati-based restaurant has signed a lease for a 6,000-square-foot space Downtown.