If you've never watched 'Dreams Of A Life', it is one of the most fascinating and emotionally gripping British documentaries ever made.
Yet, for its director Carol Morley, it's one story in a series of others about mysteries, the hidden worlds beneath the surface, and how people become disconnected from one another. It's a subject that carries over into 'Out Of Blue', her latest movie. Adapted from Martin Amis' comedic parody novel, 'Night Train', the movie sees a hardened detective (Patricia Clarkson) investigate the grisly murder of an astrophysicist and, in doing so, loses her grip on reality as she begins to explore outer space and ponder the mysteries of the cosmos.
Drenched in noir tropes, shifting from documentary to such a specific genre was a deliberate choice for Morley. "Every time I get obsessed with something, something materialises. I always liked neo-noir, like 'The Last Seduction' or 'The Big Sleep', and I think the reason I always loved them is because they're about characters. They have a style we know, and the characters are caught up in a web of deception or puzzling out themselves or others, and that intrigues me."
The line between 'Dreams Of A Life' and 'Out Of Blue' is more pointed than one might initially realise. "All the characters are connected to one another, like a constellation, but disconnected from each other. That, in a way, is a bit similar to 'Dreams Of A Life' where I uncovered all these people, and how they were connected to Joyce Vincent. Not at the time, obviously, but when I look back, I think, "OK.. that's what was going on there, that's why I got so caught up in it." So while my films look different to each other and they might be using different genre, the obsession are at the heart of it."
For Morley, that sense of detective and uncovering a mystery is placed on the audience with 'Out Of Blue', and something she's keen to see them take up. "As the audience, you're the detective. Everything you see is what Mike (Patricia Clarkson's character) sees, even though it isn't literally that, but everything we're seeing is because she sees it. And when she begins to become unstable in what's going, so do we - and it's really deliberate. It's not that I want to mess with people's minds, but her mind is getting messed up, so that's what's going to be happening to the audience."
By all accounts, Morley is aware that 'Out of Blue' isn't for everyone, and that people will take it up differently. When talking about the movie on the festival circuit, she admits that people took a while to ask questions during the Q&As after, but only because they're thinking about it. "I think, as a filmmaker, it's fascinating to feel the vibe of an audience, but also hear what they think. I don't go into the ending, but I've heard people pick up things that I didn't deliberately put in there. I'm going to take credit for them!", she says with a laugh.