“We are all stardust” is the shiny, pseudo-metaphysical mantra of Carol Morley’s Out of Blue, a phrase rendered meaningless when tacked onto this crime drama. The cosmos, dark matter, stardust, and parallel universes are all also given frequent mention; we are set adrift in a galaxy of celestial buzzwords – an effort to layer cosmic significance onto a wholly unremarkable whodunit.
Detective Mike Hoolihan (Patricia Clarkson) investigates the murder of Jennifer Rockwell, a black hole specialist, all the while dealing with a case of chronic déjà vu in face of the case’s clues. Has she seen it all before? More to this point, have we? If you’ve ever seen an episode of CSI then at least half will feel too familiar.
Out of Blue ticks an almost impressive number of boxes when it comes to TV detective drama tropes, both in its aesthetic and script. We veer closer to Cluedo territory than neo-noir when a character, referred to as “The Colonel”, is suspected because the outline of his cowboy hat is spotted in the shadows. Elsewhere Hoolihan, re-watching a lecture held by the victim before her death, quotes the more mysterious sounding lines as if they bear relevance to the case (“dark matter… dark matter” is a particular low point).
Out of Blue could have transpired as a visually arresting project with a Mulholland Drive sort of potential if the subplot of multiple realities was played with more subtlety. Though, Morley still manages a few gripping moments. A montage of flashbacks at Hoolihan’s moment of realisation is composed with flair; it will appeal to those that like a nice puzzle.
Morley’s heavy-handed approach shatters any hope that Out of Blue has at real intrigue. The stars never fully align as the interesting threads Morley scatters about come to nothing in a dime-a-dozen ending.
CAST: Patricia Clarkson, Toby Jones, James Caan, Jacki Weaver, Aaron Tveit, Jonathan Majors, Yolanda Ross
DIRECTOR: Carol Morley
WRITER: Carol Morley
SYNOPSIS: When detective Mike Hoolihan is assigned to the murder of an astrophysicist the case feels all to familiar for her; the lines of reality blur as she grapples with her connection to the murder.