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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.

Director:

Ira Sachs
1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Dina Korzun ... Laura
Rip Torn ... Alan James
Darren E. Burrows ... Michael James (as Darren Burrows)
Andrew Lawrence Henderson ... Sam James (as Andrew Henderson)
Elizabeth Morton ... Cindy, Babysitter (as Liz Morton)
Joanne Pankow ... Aunt Betty
Arielle Kight Arielle Kight ... Teenage Singer
J. Blackfoot J. Blackfoot ... Herself
Red West ... Duigan
Jenny O'Hara ... Celia
Jerry Chipman ... Shel
Mary Jean Bentley ... Gena (as Mary Jean McAdams)
Charly Kayle Charly Kayle ... Karin
J. Allen Scott J. Allen Scott ... Press Photographer
Earl Randle Earl Randle ... Old Timer
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Storyline

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

Genres:

Drama | Music | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexuality and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

7 December 2005 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

40 Tons de Azul See more »

Filming Locations:

Memphis, Tennessee, USA

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,500,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Connections

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

Soundtracks

Doctone
Written by Seyi River
Performed by Seyi River
Courtesy of Inna Flame Film Joints
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User Reviews

 
Even Trophy Girlfriends Get the Memphis Blues
30 September 2005 | by noraleeSee all my reviews

"40 Shades of Blue" updates Tennessee Williams and puts his archetypal characters into the Memphis music scene. Rip Torn is like Big Daddy, here a legendary music producer (as bolstered by taking fictional credit for the classic soul songs of Bert Berns with local color provided by musical luminaries such as Jim Dickinson and Sid Selvidge) and his mannerisms recall Sam Phillips. As his son, Darren Burrows, in a hunky and magnetic return to public consciousness since TV's "Northern Exposure," recalls Brick, though here his brooding is Oedipal. Dina Korzun is a trophy girlfriend who depends on the kindness of strangers.

In a mirror image of "Laurel Canyon," which also brought a prodigal son home to a legendary music producer parent with a younger lover, co-writer/director Ira Sachs well creates believable strained family interactions. All three interact so sweetly with the lovely toddler son that it becomes clear what warmth is missing among the adults.

The production design and use of Memphis locales reinforce an industry town where Torn's "Alan James" is well-known, and a lived-in house that includes photos and portraits on the living room wall. We also see that his cohort impresarios (whose music is actually passé these days in Memphis, as shown in "Hustle & Flow" and Torn refers to in a speech that nostalgically recalls how classic soul music was a partnership between black and whites) are mostly surrounded by much younger women.

Korzun's trophy girlfriend "Laura" is the most problematical, but it's not clear if it's the script or her acting. Sometimes she is clearly in "Lost in Translation" mode, as a Russian who has no connection to Memphis music and nothing to say to the people surrounding Torn and vice versa, and she wistfully notes that when she writes in English her handwriting looks like a child's.

Sometimes her teen age babysitter has more gumption and insight than she does. The other characters are constantly asking her how she's doing and she gives a different lie each time. Other times she can speak forthrightly and stand up for her opinions, as when she insists to a friend that the father and son do not share looks or characteristics, or acknowledging that she is living better than anyone from her home. From the opening scene of her shopping in the cosmetics section of a department store as symbols of her putting on her game face, her character seems to be Sphinx-like, but Korzun does create a sympathetic portrait of a confused, trapped bird and your heart does go out to her poignant efforts to be her own woman.

The film seems to build toward a confrontation that almost happens but doesn't quite, though that might mean that the characters have made a decision about their lives, as the son chooses not to be like his father, after several scenes where he did seem to be imitating his behavior.

The lack of a climax may be realistic, but it doesn't make for effective drama.


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