out of Five
Running time: 136
The performances are fine but the multiple story strands never really add up to much and the film fails to engage on an emotional level.
What's it all about?
Directed by Martha Fiennes, Chromophobia stars Damian Lewis as Marcus Aylesbury, a well-to-do lawyer who's about to be drawn into a political scandal. As a result he has little time for either his bored, therapy-obsessed wife, Ilona (Kristin Scott Thomas) or his attention-seeking 8-year-old son Orlando (Clem Tibber), who in turn ends up forming a close attachment to his gay godfather, Stephen (Ralph Fiennes).
As if that wasn't bad enough, Marcus invites his old school friend Trent (Ben Chaplin) to stay for the weekend, unaware that Trent is a journalist under strict instructions to ferret out the story behind the scandal. Meanwhile, kindly social worker Colin (Rhys Ifans) tries to help down-on-her-luck prostitute Gloria (Penelope Cruz). But is Gloria somehow connected to what's going on with Marcus?
The performances are extremely good, particularly Scott Thomas (who seems like she's auditioning for Desperate Housewives) and Ifans, whose subplot with Cruz is actually more interesting than the main storyline. There's also strong support from Ralph Fiennes (presumably as a favour to his sister) as well as Ian Holm and Harriet Walter as Marcus' parents.
The film's biggest problem is that it's hard to sympathise with any of the characters, particularly Ilona, who's just plain horrible for most of the film. Similarly, the plot is uninvolving and never seems to amount to much, while the revelation regarding Gloria's role in the story is decidedly anti-climactic.
The title, incidentally, is derived from a video installation early on in the film, though it's never too clear just how it refers to the story. Similarly, the pacing is extremely slow and the overly long running time doesn't do the film any favours either.
Despite good work from a fine cast, the plot never gets off the ground and Chromophobia fails to engage on any meaningful level. Disappointing.