In an age where comic-book superheroes rule the box office and strange erotic stories have recently dominated indie film festivals it’s refreshing to come across a spin on much lacking neo-noir thrillers.Man from Reno takes the viewer on an interesting and rather bumpy journey down many shady twists followed by intrigue around every corner.
The popular and well-established Japanese author Aki Akahori, played by Ayako Fujitani, runs away during her most recent book tour to enjoy a solo-holiday in San Francisco, California. Shortly after checking into a hotel in the city she finds herself being pursued by a handsome, tall, dark stranger, Kazuki Kitamura.
The man charms his way into her bed and takes up residence in her hotel room until he mysteriously disappears as quickly as he arrived. Meanwhile, in a smaller town south of San Francisco a Japanese man is struck by the car of the sleepy-town’s Sheriff Paul Del Moral, Pepe Serna, who inadvertently collides into Akahori’s real life mystery that foggy evening. Akahori’s affair is only the beginning of life imitating art as the mystery of the disappearing lover unfolds. With the man missing and even stranger henchmen come after him and taunt Akahori she decides to do as her main character in her famous detective series, “Inspector Takabe," and solve the crime alongside Sheriff Del Moral. However, this could be the last addition to her series and her life.
Director Dave Boyle has a keen eye for aesthetics and does a fantastic job filming this spin on neo-noir storytelling by introducing fresh Japanese actors and an interesting mystery. Man from Reno's vision is a delight to watch with great angles, moody lighting, and recognizable locations but what it clearly misses is consistency in the plot. Characters are brought in with little to no backstory and leave just as rapidly. Sub-stories start with even less explanation and go nowhere leaving the viewer confused while trying to keep track. Most of the dialogue is spoken in Japanese which forces viewersto rely heavily on reading subtitles, as a result be sure not to blink or you might miss a key clue. At the end of the film there are three possible scenes that can close out the film but instead it does notend. Each fade out has the viewer thinking the story is over to only be led to the next unnecessary scene furthering the confusing plot structure.
Unfortunately, not only the story was lacking the mood throughout Man from Reno was rather monotone. The scarier, thrilling moments were lackadaisical and barely rallied much suspense. Followed by the lack of depth in the subpar acting performances by Fujitani and company. For the mainstream audience that craves a wild, fast paced ride this will surely go unnoticed as most modern day detective mysteries remain too dry. For an independent film in the indie film festival circuit this movie's polished aesthetic carries it through however in the box office it could certainly miss the mark.
Man from Reno has a runtime of 111 minutes and currently has no rating.
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