Out of the Blue follows in the great tradition of Double Indemnity and Body Heat. What is it about a pretty woman that makes men agree to murder? In this case, a lovely woman, Marilyn (Diane Kruger), bats her eyelashes at Connor (Ray Nicholson) and suddenly he’s ready to throw his life away for her. Connor has a lot at stake. He’s moved to a small coastal town to get his life back on track after serving prison time. It becomes very obvious very quickly that Marilyn might not be a good influence on him.
It’s not surprising that Kruger turns in an electrifying performance. She could have chemistry with anyone and anything. Kruger has proven time and again that it’s a simple task for her to personify the dictionary definition of “coquettish.” Like the erotic thrillers of the ’80s, the success of these plots relies on the allure of the leading lady. Can this woman exude enough charm and sensuality to get the leading man to make a violent, life-altering decision? In the case of Kruger in Out of the Blue, it’s not even a question. In her three decade-long career, Kruger has been a force of nature. It’s always a joy to watch her command the screen.
Aside from Kruger’s performance, Out of the Blue leaves a lot to be desired. The dialogue is simplistic and clunky, with Connor and Marilyn often speaking in groan-inducing cliches. The script goes so far as to have Marilyn, upon meeting Connor for the second time, ask for a book about murder. To an extent, it’s understandable. Most erotic thrillers aren’t notably nuanced, but Out of the Blue feels particularly heavy-handed in its execution. The conversations between Connor and Marilyn are generic and cause the film to limp painstakingly toward its climax.
Because of the simplicity of Connor and Marilyn’s relationship, there isn’t a lot for the audience to hold onto for the duration of the film. Neither Connor nor Marilyn has any real personality that makes the journey worth it. As captivating as Kruger is, you can’t help but think that she could do so much more given the chance. That her talents would be better utilized with a meatier script. Nicholson’s performance as Connor also doesn’t equal the intensity of Kruger’s. He remains hollow, matching the emptiness of the script. The two leads often feel like they’re acting in extraordinarily different films.
To the film’s credit, the ending does live up to the name Out of the Blue. While much of the plot can be easily guessed based on the previously-made comparison to Double Indemnity, the film’s final minute has more plot than the entire rest of the film. Even then, it’s a half-baked twist with no lead-up or real explanation, and it opens a huge can of problematic worms simply for the sake of drama. Without giving it away, (although the twist should not entice you) the film’s final moment throws everything the audience knows about Marilyn’s character into a tailspin. While it’s clear that Marilyn always had a nefarious plan for Connor, the film’s final moment implies something much darker that should not simply be a final-second throwaway development.
Usually, even if the film is not wholly successful, it’s easy to understand why it was made or what the writer was trying to express. Whether it be something deeply personal or a reaction to the larger social landscape, it’s fairly simple to pick out the intentions of the film. Out of the Blue has stumped me. There are plenty of erotic thrillers meant to excite and titilate, two of which have been mentioned in this review, but Out of the Blue doesn’t even meet those basic qualifications. It is not erotic or a thrill, so what remains? Two superficial characters with muddled motivations planning to murder someone who doesn’t appear in the film until the murder scene. It’s just not enough to warrant spending all that time with these characters.