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Jack (Bob Hoskins) is consumed by guilt and past regret. He is hated by his son and abused by local youths. The death of his wife leaves Jack lost and alone in his self loathing. Hope arrives in the unlikely form of eight year old, Florrie, when she moves in next door and delights in Jack's neglected racing pigeons, unwittingly rekindling his own love for the birds. When his glamorous French neighbour, Stephanie (Josiane Balasko) takes pity on him, Jack cannot help but fall for her charms. When gradually his innocent friendship with Florrie is thrown into question when the girl goes missing and Stephanie reveals a well kept secret, Jack's life is thrown into turmoil. His son comes to his defence amidst the local mob mentality and Jack finally faces his own prejudices to win back Stephanie's love. Written by
Since so far there has not been much useful information about Jan Dunn's low budget melodrama, "Ruby Blue", I will throw out a few observations. The title is a reference to the racing pigeon that much of the story revolves around. Note that the title line in the promotional material incorporates a silhouette of the bird.
The promotional material would lead you to believe that this is a children's film with Bob Hoskins (Jack) and Jessica Stewart (Florrie) having a lot of "Bad Bascomb" (1946) moments in the tradition of Wallace Beery and Margaret O'Brien. They do have some scenes together, the most effective and least contrived segments of the film, but the cute-kid-as-a-redeemer is more side story than central focus. Despite the misleading marketing material there is little here that would appeal to children. Dunn's script is filled out with a host of tedious characters and subplots that detail the life of a depressed widower (Hopkins). Imagine Michelangelo Antonioni expanding the short film "Wasp" (2003) into a 112-minute feature length non-judgmental examination of working-class suburban living.
According to the back of its DVD case, "Ruby Blue" (2001) is "an uplifting journey" and "a warmly human story about life and love". As portrayed here that journey is mostly dull and boring. Hoskins' performance makes it all tolerable as this makes the story seem deeper than it really is; unfortunately this just causes viewers to focus on the missed opportunity as the naturalistic script gives Hoskins so little to work with.
The ending (if you can manage to hang on till then) is a little too tidy, you can't help thinking back on scenes that if cut would have left room for a more convincing resolution. But this was probably quite deliberate as Dunn may want to show that a neighborhood has the capacity to come together to help someone, then instantly turn on him when their paranoia kicks in, and then just as quickly back off and become nice again.
No doubt the film would do a much better job of connecting with viewers if the poor audio did not obliterate much of the dialogue. A closed captioning feature on the DVD would have been an obvious solution but they skimped and did not include it. The French scenes are subtitled but they comprise just another side story.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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