Forty Shades of Blue Review

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A legendary Memphis music producer from the golden age of soul (Torn) is married to a Russian trophy wife (Korzun), but pays her little attention. When his estranged son comes to visit, she begins an affair with the younger man.


Almost a decade after debuting with gay drama The Delta, Ira Sachs returns with this resolutely uninvolving mood-piece. The decision to avoid melodramatics in chronicling a Russian trophy wife’s (Dina Korzun) fling with her musician husband’s son (Darren Burrows) seems shrewd, especially in a Memphis context where every tear and heartache finds its way into a cliché-strewn lyric.

But Sachs deprives the affair of intensity and, consequently, it’s hard to empathise with her plight, even though Rip Torn’s spouse is clearly an egotistical chauvinist. Burrows’ lack of personality doesn’t help, nor does his whiny resentment of his father and indifference towards his newly pregnant wife. But what most deadens this limp drama is Sachs’ arch striving for impressionistic significance.

Russian Dina Korzun impresses as the bored trophy wife, but Rip Torn and Darren Burrows respectively over- and underplay their hands in this archly restrained Memphis melodrama.