Forty Shades of Blue (2005)

R  |   |  Drama, Music, Romance  |  7 December 2005 (France)
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A Russian woman living in Memphis with a much older rock-'n'-roll legend experiences a personal awakening when her husband's estranged son comes to visit.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Darren E. Burrows ...
Michael James (as Darren Burrows)
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Old Timer


Wealthy music producer Alan James lives with his beautiful Russian girlfriend Laura, thirty years younger than him, whom he met while he was in Russia on business. They have a three-year-old son. Alan is a music legend, having produced black music during the 60's and 70's, the golden era of Memphis Soul. They live an affluent life in a sprawling mansion on the banks of the Mississippi in Memphis, Tennessee. But, although she is comfortable, Laura feels lonely and isolated. Alan has an estranged adult son from a previous marriage, Michael, a literature professor, who is married and lives with his wife in Los Angeles. Michael and his father have a complicated relationship that is marred by disappointment, hampered by jealousy, and fueled by anger. When Michael returns home to Memphis for the first time in many years, although he had at first disapproved of his father's young girlfriend, a painful and dangerous love affair develops between him and Laura, his contemporary. As this ... Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Music | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexuality and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

7 December 2005 (France)  »

Also Known As:

40 Tons de Azul  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$1,500,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Featured in 2006 Independent Spirit Awards (2006) See more »


Annie May
Written by Albert Sommers
Performed by Elvin Bishop
Courtesy of Alligator Records
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User Reviews

beautiful. will stay with you long after you've seen it
5 February 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I saw 40 Shades and think this film is incredible. Ira Sachs has made a movie that is unlike the typical current American film but is all about America. Every frame is filled with people and places that make you feel like you are actually there, watching the lives of these people. This film could not have been made in Toronto or Seattle or any other place "standing in for" Memphis. All of this is important because the main female character in this drama is Russian - an outsider in this America - and we feel her estrangement in every scene. None of the film is strange to us because we know these places and these people - because we are American. It is this familiarity that allows us to feel her outsider status all the more acutely.

Dina Korzun, who plays Laura is beautiful and remarkable. You sense her alienation at every moment and understand the difficulties of her situation without ever feeling that she is the helpless victim of circumstances. In one particularly amazing moment of the film, we see her face flicker with opposing emotions from second to second... Sachs allows the camera to linger, heightening our discomfort with the scene and emotions occurring.

Rip Torn is phenomenal. He knows this character and he knows this place. He is so authentic you absolutely believe every moment of his performance and as much as you hate him you feel for him too. An incredible performance.

Darren Burrows's character Michael is perhaps the hardest to find commonality with. It's not an easy job being the catalyst in a family drama and so at times we don't understand his actions but we do sense that they are coming from a man in limbo - pathetic flailings of a man sort of trying to do something, be something but also lacking the real conviction and drive. Of the three performances this one is the weakest but that is not to imply that it is not good. It's hard trying to match Rip Torn, most can't in any movie.

In Sumary, this movie is challenging -- through its structure and pacing and especially through its story but it is a challenge we should have more often in film not one to run away from. It is also beautiful and moving. It will definitely linger in your memory...often times coming back to you as if you are remembering a moment from your own life.

16 of 26 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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