Greetings again from the dark. It’s been awhile since we have seen a turtle movie that didn’t also feature pizza and nunchucks. While it’s true that the endangered exotic turtles in director Dave Boyle’s neo-noir potboiler don’t live in the sewer or wear masks, they do play a key role in his multiple-plot murder mystery co-written with Joel Clark and Michael Lerner.
This nifty little web of clues and McGuffins centers on mystery writer Aki (Ayako Fujitani) and a small town Sheriff (Pepe Serna), and starts with a foggy night on a nearly deserted road. From there we get murders, turtles, a night of passion, deceit, paparazzi, secrets, and a rich Brit and his burly henchmen. And if that’s not enough, there is a professional imposter who takes identity theft to the extreme.
With the back and forth between English and Japanese dialogue, the film has the feel of a foreign film, yet it’s filmed mostly in San Francisco. The use of mood lighting and atmospheric sets add an element of intrigue. Heck, even one small hotel room gets used over and over for a variety of scenes. It’s a fun movie to watch and play along with.
Ms. Fujitani and Mr. Serna are both excellent in their roles, and support work comes courtesy of Kazuki Kitamura (The Raid, Killers), Hiroshi Watanabe (Letters from Iwo Jima), Rome Kanda, and Derrick O’Connor (Lethal Weapon 2). This was a favorite on the film festival circuit last year, and despite the use of a couple of false endings, it is one most fans of mysteries will enjoy.
“Man From Reno” opens in theaters March 27, 2015.