Patricia Clarkson is drawn into a black hole of murder, murk and existential angst in this adaptation of Martin Amis’s Night Train

Carol Morley’s Out of Blue is an intriguing and perplexing creation, starting with that title, from which the word “the” seems to have been removed, making what’s on offer sound like an impressionist painting or a classic jazz album, or some slangily described phenomenon of theoretical physics. It’s a lugubrious quasi-noir mystery set in modern-day New Orleans, starring a charismatic Patricia Clarkson as Detective Mike Hoolihan; a movie that sometimes seems papier-mâchéd together with layers of mannerism and pastiche, floating along like a two-hour dream sequence.

Morley has adapted Martin Amis’s 1997 novel Night Train, a hardboiled genre homage about a careworn female police officer tackling a homicide case so uniquely disturbing that it brings her to the edge of a breakdown. Amis had researched its exotically unusual tough-cop forms of speech (“I am a police”) from the writings of David Simon, creator of The Wire, although John Updike rather crushingly pulled rank on the British novelist in his review, dismissing “a number of American locutions new to this native speaker”.

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