Dave Boyle crafts a twisty, pitch-black noir amid the streets of San Francisco.
“In Serna and Fujitani, director David Boyle has created a fine contrast in his leads, offering the rock solid old cop against the writer drawn to and terrified by the mystery slowly crowding her life. “
Man From Reno
Release date: June 15, 2014 (USA)
Director: Dave Boyle
Stars: Ayako Fujitani, Pepe Serna, Kazuki Kitamura
Running time: 111 minutes
MPAA rating: NR
Man From Reno is screening as part of the Los Angeles Film Festival. You can find details and tickets here.
One of the enduring tropes in noir is the unjust world: one where no matter what the hero does, no matter how far up the ladder he or she climbs, there is no justice. Without an excess of fanfare, without filmmaking that calls attention to itsef, director Dave Boyle‘s Man From Reno observes this, and traps its protagonists its villain’s ever-tightening web.
It’s two stories that become one, actually – the first, involving small town Sheriff Paul Del Moral (Pepe Serna) investigating an encounter with a terrified Japanese man in the fog while the other follows Aki, a suicidal mystery writer (Ayako Fujitani) whose brief romance with a stranger puts her in the crosshairs of dangerous men with unknown motives. A drawer full of passports, a dying billionaire, and vanished chauffeur make Man From Reno feel like one kind of mystery, when it’s really another, way more dangerous one about a kind of easy human evil.
As Aki and the sheriff’s stories draw closer and closer to one another, Boyle constructs a mystery that tightens like a noose around its characters: very little overtly happens at first, but strangers showing up unexpected to Aki’s room, to a head of lettuce in a mystery man’s bag, the threat of something awful happening to our leads always looms.
In Serna and Fujitani, Boyle has created a fine contrast in his leads, offering the rock solid old cop against the writer drawn to and terrified by the mystery slowly crowding into her life. When the real mystery emerges – the identity of the man who spent the night in Aki’s room – the story twists into something unsettling, a world that feels like it’s out to get Aki and the old cop. You’re genuinely afraid for both as the film tumbles inevitably toward its conclusion.