MAN FROM RENO
Directed by Dave Boyle
Best Narrative Feature, 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival
We all want to escape at some point. This moody neo-noir explores what happens when conflicted characters finally take the plunge, leaving their haunted memories behind for a strange and salacious alternate path. In this story of a Japanese novelist (Ayako Fujitani) and a small town sheriff (Pepe Serna) who get caught up in a spider’s web of deceit, corruption, and murder, director Dave Boyle (Surrogate Valentine, SDAFF ’11) constructs a pivotal San Francisco film built entirely out of distrusting vantage points. Strangeness and danger permeate every angular frame and haloed composition, creating a skewed physical landscape that matches the characters’ warped psychology.
Opening with a foggy ode to Robert Aldrich’s Kiss Me Deadly, the serpentine plot then constricts and contorts to include narrative riffs on everything from Vertigo to The Maltese Falcon. All of the typical conventions and archetypes of film noir are subverted in arresting fashion. The result is a fascinating and fatalistic oddity about friendship, the failure of imagination, and withdrawal. As one characters says early on, “Sounds fun, pretending.” Boyle’s film proves just how precarious wearing a mask can be. –Glenn Heath, Jr.
Cast: Ayako Fujitani, Pepe Serna, Kazuki Kitamura, Yasuyo Shiba