An artfully composed mix of crime mystery, erotic melodrama, police procedural and courtroom drama, his compact 75-minute movie is upfront about nudity but very teasing when it comes to revealing its plot.
Mathieu's own character is almost as clueless as the viewer. A married provincial businessman caught up in a passionate affair with the wife (played by Mathieu's co-writer, Stéphanie Cléau) of the local pharmacist, he finds himself entangled in a murder investigation. Is he guilty? Innocent? Both?
As whodunits go, The Blue Room is wilfully frustrating. But as the story flashes back and forth between a judicial interrogation and the events leading up to it - which includes torrid liaisons in the hotel room of the title - the glimpses we get of the protagonists' complicated desires and flaws keep us enthralled.
Certificate 15. Runtime 75 mins. Director Mathieu Amalric
The Blue Room goes on UK cinema release from 9 September and gets launched on MUBI on 25 September.
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A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.