Friday, March 27, 2015

Movie with Abe: Man from Reno

Man from Reno
Directed by Dave Boyle
Released March 27, 2015

Films that merge different cultures are inherently interesting, though their intersections aren’t always seamless or logical. San Francisco and Tokyo were recently merged into one imagined technological metropolis in “Big Hero 6,” and now the two heavily connected cities are once again interwoven in a more contemporary and literal way with the new mystery thriller “Man from Reno.” Directed by American filmmaker Dave Boyle, this story takes place in the greater San Francisco area but involves a much larger scope including a reclusive Japanese author, a local suburban sheriff, and an identity crisis that affects more than a few innocent people.

“Man from Reno” feels at times like three distinctly different stories. Aki Akahori (Ayako Fujitani) arrives to her hotel in San Francisco with her own emotional baggage, on the run from her old life back in Japan but not for fear of being pursued but rather because of the demons that haunt her. The echoes of her former life have a separate feel from her present experiences in San Francisco, which are mostly fantastical and mildly disconcerting as she meets Akira (Kazuki Kitamura), best described as a friendly enigma. And then there is Paul Del Moral (Pepe Serna), a sheriff investigating a mysterious death with the help of his daughter Teresa (Elisha Skorman). Inevitably, the three will converge, and it’s all a matter of time before the pieces are put together.

This is a definitely a strange film, one that often gets distracted from reality and caught up in the odd nature of a given moment or lingering feeling. That serves the film and its several subplots well, as the mystery is only enhanced by Aki’s bizarre experiences and the puzzling questions that emerge for Paul as he proceeds with his investigation. Aki is initially an eager tourist to a new city who finds refuge in not being known but then discovers herself to be embroiled in something far more dangerous half a world away from where she began. The film transforms as it goes along into something visibly different than what it began as, much more overtly disturbing after some of the unknown has been resolved. The performances are solid, but it’s the tone and pacing that are key, keeping this film from getting too preoccupied with any one distraction and set instead on keeping its audiences in the dark and then all too aware of just what is going on and its inevitability.


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