Screened as part of NZIFF 2005

Forty Shades of Blue 2004

Directed by Ira Sachs

The classic triangle of old patriarch, young wife and young son plays out at the moneyed end of the Memphis music world in this year’s Sundance winner. Starring Rip Torn.

USA In English
107 minutes 35mm



Michael Rohatyn
Ira Sachs


Julian Whatley


Affonso Gonçalves


Dickon Hinchliffe


Rip Torn
Dina Korzun
Darren Burrows
Paprika Steen
Red West


Sundance, Berlin 2005


Grand Jury Prize, Sundance 2005


In 1996 Ira Sachs visited us to present the world premiere of his debut feature The Delta. The film was shot in 16mm and Ira brought it with him in his suitcase. Nine years later, Forty Shades of Blue his second feature, walked away with the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The long process of getting his project off the ground is a salutary lesson in perseverance and faith – passion, too; Ira is crazy about movies. He believed in his story about ‘the woman on the arm of a powerful man’, his ‘woman movie’. I’ve had the privilege to follow Ira – and Laura, the woman in question – over the years through various drafts and rewrites as Ira adapted the part for actresses who, as time moved on and financing wasn’t forthcoming, had to withdraw from the project. How elated he was when he at last found her in Dina Korzun, so terrific in Last Resort. And how terrific she is in Ira’s restrained, intimate drama about a beautiful woman and her relationship with two men, one her much older boyfriend Alan (the great Rip Torn), the other Alan’s alienated son whose arrival home tilts the delicate balance Laura has established. As in the films of Maurice Pialat, the great French director whom Ira admires, it’s not the sweep of grand emotion that is on display here, but the small tragedies and piercing tenderness that can undermine or solder relationships. Unfortunately Ira couldn’t join us, for he’s busy getting his next feature of the ground, determined that nine years won’t pass before we hear from him again. — Sandra Reid 

Dina Korzun’s riveting, coiled performance offers precious glimpses into Laura’s smoldering soul. As in a Henry James novel, Sachs charts his heroine’s subtle self-discovery with intimate precision. The always wonderful Rip Torn is Falstaff and King Lear both, as the crusty intimidating patriarch forced to confront his mortality – his lushly appointed yet outmoded home a resonant metaphor for his predicament. As the third side of this quasi-Oedipal triangle, Darren Burrows brings exquisite sensitivity to the part of the disapproving son emerging from his father’s shadow. — Caroline Libresco, Sundance Film Festival 2005 

Wordlessly eloquent about the patterns of estrangement and entrapment that affect family ties, the film is something of a throwback, an unshowy melodrama that owes a sizeable debt to Cassavetes (not least in a pair of superbly sustained party scenes). — Dennis Lim, Village Voice