The Reckless Moment is a standard melodrama directed by Max Ophuls about a woman who tries to cover up what she suspects is her daughter’s unwitting murder of her ex-lover. It is a simple film, but like many simple films, it suffers under the, well, the lack of weight of the material.
The one thing that immediately sticks out of this film is the acting. Joan Bennett is the film’s main support beam, and she holds the film aloft quite well given the rather basic material she is given (Geraldine Brooks also does a good job as her daughter). There were a few moments of very lovely camerawork, but otherwise the cinematography was par at best. The film is categorized as a film noir, but it never really feels like one (and not to the extent that Murder, My Sweet felt like one). The only trope of film noir that this film indulges in is its heavy use of shadows, especially when the character of Martin Donnelly shows up.
I expected more out of this one than what I got, and my expectations for future Max Ophuls films are lowered quite a bit. Nevertheless, this is a competent thriller that at least manages to get by doing what it does. Film noir fans might find something here if they’re really looking, but otherwise you’ll have to know what you’re getting into to want to get into this one.
Arbitrary Rating: 7/10