Man from Reno
Film Review by Kam Williams
Crime Writer Becomes Embroiled in Real-Life Murder Mystery in Multilayered Neo-Noir
Aki Akahori (Ayako Fujitani) is a mystery writer in her native Japan where she is famous for her best-selling “Inspector Takabe” series. But despite achieving phenomenal success and the fanfare surrounding the release of her latest potboiler, the popular novelist is still feeling so empty that she’s contemplating suicide.
Desperate for a change of scenery, she travels from Tokyo to San Francisco where she rents a hotel room, and plays with a razor while sitting in a bathtub. Fortunately, before making a rash decision, she ventures down to the bar where she is propositioned by a handsome Japanese gentleman (Kazuki Kitamura) in town from Reno.
Though initially offended by the crass overture, Aki eventually invites the solicitous stranger up to her room for a delightful evening of no-strings attached sex. The next morning, the strapping hunk vanishes into thin air without saying goodbye, however he does leave a suitcase full of clues behind.
Meanwhile, in nearby San Marco, Sheriff Moral (Pepe Serna) and his deputized daughter (Elisha Skorman) have a dead body on their hands identified as Akira Suzuki. As it turns out, that’s the name of the stud with whom Aki just shared the steamy one-night stand.
Furthermore, besides the authorities, there are a number of unsavory characters who are suddenly suspicious of seemingly innocent Aki. They also want access to her recently-deceased lover’s belongings.
So, instead of quietly committing hari kari, the flustered tourist finds herself embroiled in the middle of a real whodunit, rather than a creation of her fertile imagination. Thus unfolds Man from Reno, a cleverly-scripted neo-noir directed by Dave Boyle (White on Rice). Laced with more twists than a Chubby Checker concert, this inscrutable adventure proves a pure delight to unravel from beginning to end.
An utterly absorbing, inspired homage to the Golden Age of Pulp Fiction.
Excellent (4 stars)
In English and Japanese with subtitles
Running time: 111 minutes
Distributor: Eleven Arts
To see a trailer for Man from Reno, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5X0d-2x0NAk