‘Out of Blue’ Goes Over Your Head

by Christian Ramos on March 21, 2019

in Print Reviews,Reviews

[Rating: Rock Fist Way Down]  

Detective Mike Hoolihan (Patricia Clarkson) has personal issues that affect her day to day operations. Alongside this, she has to investigate the possible murder of an astrophysicist. Wait a second, a detective with issues? Isn’t this the same plot as last year’s Nicole Kidman film Destroyer? Yes, director Carol Morley’s latest movie Out of Blue, showing now at Screenland Crossroads, is really a retooling of every possible modern detective movie ever made, packed into a run time that feels overlong and too existential for audiences to want to care for any of the characters or the final outcome.

Astrophysicist Jennifer Rockwell (Mamie Gummer aka Meryl’s daughter) opens this film in a mundane voice, quoting from Carl Sagan that “we are made of starstuff”. Flash forward to Hoolihan investigating her murder and why something like this could happen.

The idea that Rockwell was studying stars and black holes keeps coming up, but this leads really nowhere except inside the mind of a detective. She follows up with the usual suspects, colleagues Duncan (Jonathan Majors) and suspicious Professor Ian Strammi (Toby Jones) who were with Rockwell on her last night alive. Strammi seems particularly suspicious given that a video of Rockwell lecturing on the night she was killed shows him being a little bit too skittish and nervous for Hoolihan. Also in the bunch are Rockwell’s parents Col. Tom Rockwell (James Caan) and Miriam (Jacki Weaver) who never noticed anything out of the ordinary, but seem themselves troubled at possible motives and family secrets.

Hoolihan, through a series of blank stares into space and trying to understand the deeper meaning of life and the universe (I’m not joking with this), comes to determine maybe Rockwell killed herself and maybe because she knew something about her own family that would have destroyed it.


This movie is heavy. Heavy in the sense that it goes on way too long with a very anticlimactic conclusion to the case. What is the point it’s trying to make? It beats the hell out of me because it gets way too involved in bigger questions about the universe that the script doesn’t actually support. Gummer almost plays an inner voice to Clarkson guiding her on her own journey through whatever cosmic trip she’s having on Earth.

I think this is why a lot of movies or television shows about detectives with personal issues never appeal to me. Clarkson is fine in this but the role calls for really nothing to happen except buy a cheap wig and look and act depressed for near two hours. Again, this could have been solved and done in about an hour’s time. The writing for this is near-joke like, having characters come and go without explanation, random acts of lights flickering occur without even a hint as to why, and well … there’s a weird scene involving chicken wings.

Overall, Out of Blue is probably not the most interesting detective story out there right now to see, nor is it something that’ll make you feel really anything serious about questioning our galaxy. Even the setting of New Orleans should have acted as a second character but was criminally underused to shots of Clarkson in her car with those damned blank stares wondering like myself, where the hell this was all going.

Christian Ramos is a classic film fan, having had the dream to host Turner Classic Movies for years now. He also has a large amount of Oscar trivia in his head, remembers dressing as Groucho Marx one Halloween, and cherishes the moment Julianne Moore liked his tweet.

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