Dave Boyle’s Man from Reno keeps threatening to be a dark (at least consistently serious) film pulling on film noir inspirations and pulp paperback detective stories, but it never quite gets there. One night, after hitting an unidentified Japanese man with his car, Sheriff Del Moral (Pepe Serna) stumbles on a mysterious case that leads him to San Francisco. There, author Aki Akahori (Ayako Fujitani) has fled Tokyo and after enjoying a brief fling with a mysterious stranger, is thrust into the very same case.
The humor is off, sometimes far too dry, others far too silly, considering the story, but then, there’s another issue. The story, in attempts to achieve the kind of ludicrous twisting narrative of the noir thriller, loses itself too many times. It delves in deeper and deeper but doesn’t manage to drag us with any great zeal. Though, one of the most interesting things about Man from Reno is its array of zany multinational characters who, though sometimes jarring, are often enjoyable. Unfortunately its array of strange characters are left in a pile somewhere out of sight, its story hopelessly convoluted and confused by too many characters and not enough intrigue. There is some success in Kazuki Kitamura’s(Killers) portrayal of a handsome stranger and Serna’s wily old cop, but even when those two characters eventually meet, it’s unfortunately underwhelming.
The humor along with the mix of genre templates is surprisingly uninvolving. The darker streaks work best when married with a significant amount of mystery, but the humor inevitably sinks the boat. Del Moral’s investigation really pulls you in, but is thrown overboard by a middling and distracted story of author melodrama. This is a mixed pot that’s trying far too hard to achieve a type of story usually marked by shameless nonchalance.
Moments of gorgeous noir cinematography are few and far between in the glorified melodrama of Man from Reno. Viewers will be split by which side of the plot they enjoy more, but as a whole this isn’t quite there.
Dir: Dave Boyle
Stars: Pepe Serna, Ayako Fujitani, Kazuki Kitamura, Hiroshi Watanabe