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Forty Shades of Blue (2005)

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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.


1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael James (as Darren Burrows)
Sam James (as Andrew Henderson)
Cindy, Babysitter (as Liz Morton)
Arielle Kight ...
J. Blackfoot ...
Gena (as Mary Jean McAdams)
Charly Kayle ...
J. Allen Scott ...
Press Photographer
Earl Randle ...
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 »


The Zone Dub
Written by Dave Audé
Performed by Extension 119
Courtesy of Moonshine Records
See more »

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User Reviews

a brilliant directing effort
4 February 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is a quietly brilliant film, a real gem, mostly because every frame of Forty Shades of Blue reeks of cinema; it's a film lover's film, and, maybe more importantly, a lovers' film, a romance/drama that is human, complex and entertaining at the same time.

I was blown away by Sachs' attention to details and command of his actors. There's nothing flashy to his naturalistic approach, yet the three main actors/lovers shine, and the camera feels at ease even in the most intimate moments.

If this movie was in French, it would be up for an academy award as a foreign language film, in the U.S. they will treat it as a small, indie film. That's reality. But the reality this film captures, a triangle between a Russian woman, her much older, legendary music producer husband and his son, speaks to a greater truth - that people are fragile and wanting, that life in the West is so good, it makes us soft and even more fragile and wanting and selfish and human than we want to acknowledge. That at the end of the day we all want to love and be loved and be safe. When was the last time you saw a movie so simple and giving in its complexity?

It's set in Memphis, but it speaks an international language and I hope this film gets seen everywhere, not just festivals.

This is the first Ira Sachs film I've seen (his IMDb lists another feature, The Delta, and some shorts) but I'm certain there will be many more. Let's just hope Hollywood doesn't corrupt his unique talent and respect for movies and human beings.

Oh, and it's got some great music too.

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