Samuel Kihagi's The Blue is an imperfect film about imperfect people. It's centered around a young man named Francois (Lee Bingham) who would seem to have a simple, idyllic life with the freedom to stay up late, play basketball whenever he wants, surf internet porn, and eat whatever meals he wants whenever he wants.
Life is perfect. Except it isn't.
Francois's life is practically aching for human connection, his daily life filled with empty gestures in a large but empty house where everything just feels so empty that even we, the audience, can't help but feel enveloped by the emptiness.
The Blue is occasionally a really difficult film to watch because writer/director Kihagi doesn't flinch when showing Francois's overwhelming, submersive loneliness and, glimpse by glimpse, what created the situation from which there may be no rescue.
The Blue is that rare ultra-low budget indie that feels more natural and more authentic precisely because of its occasionally distractions. Kihagi's lensing for the film varies wildly from warm and intimate to bold and intrusive. The lensing possesses an occasionally washed out look that feels partly intentional and partly Kihagi doing the best he could with what he had. It doesn't always work, but when it works it works wonders.
The same is true for The Blue's sound mix, an occasionally distracting light echo actually enhancing the impact of urban loneliness amidst gritty backgrounds.
There's a naturalism to The Blue that gives it a quiet ache. You can't help but feel like Bingham is struggling within the weighty material early on, but then you begin to realize that he's actually acting his ass off and his character arc from beginning to end is simply mind-blowing. It's a quiet performance, especially early on, because loneliness complicated by depression complicated by all the shit that life can throw at you is most often quiet and not the usual histrionics we seem in Hollywood motion pictures. Francois's loneliness and resignation and regret feels palpable - Bingham makes it real and honest and accessible and incredibly painful to watch. It's the kind of loneliness where even we the audience begin to wonder how he can possibly survive.
Truthfully, the ache is so intense that you can't help but feel some sense of relief when Dora (Kayla Morales) shows up on the scene. Now then, don't go thinking that Kihagi turns this into some Hallmark Channel happy ending piece of cinema. Kihagi seems to be far too honest for that. A conservation-minded young woman who just sort of invades Francois's life, Dora offers something if not quite hope that both Francois and this film desperately needed. She adds an emotional core, a vibrancy, that plays beautifully alongside Francois's more melancholy tones. She's introspective yet open and Kayla Morales is absolutely magic every time she's on the screen. There's a connection between the two, but wisely it's always played with vulnerability and fragility as if you can't help but wonder if it's too fragile to be anything meaningful. This is Morales's first film and she brings such a naturalness that you can't help but hope her film work continues.
For those who need all the Hollywood stylings, The Blue will likely disappoint. The cinematography will be too inconsistent. The sound design will occasionally frustrate. Heck, even the performances will likely come off as too calm and too lacking in the usual dramatics.
However, for those moviegoers with more independent tastes The Blue is a cinematic feast of simplicity, honesty, and quiet hope that takes a lot of patience to discover but is ultimately worth the wait. It's a challenging film because life is challenging. It's an imperfect film because life is imperfect. It's also the kind of film that reminds you just how much can be done with a little bit of cash, an artistic vision, and a whole lot of talent.
For more information on The Blue, including how you can watch it for yourself, visit the film's official website linked to in the credits.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic