MAN FROM RENO (2015)
Director: Dave Boyle
Ayako Fujitani, Pepe Serna, Kazuki Kitamura, Hiroshi Watanabe, Elisha
Co: Eleven Arts,
Tiger Industry Films
Genre: Noir thriller, Crime, Mystery
Aki Akahori (Ayako Fujitani) is a successful crime writer who is feeling the pressures of being a celebrity to her fans. She suddenly abandons her U.S. book tour and travels to San Francisco, to escape the rigors of the tour. As she tries to relax and regenerate her spirit, she encounters a handsome, intriguing Japanese man (Kazuki Kitamura). She feels very vulnerable yet she is attracted to him and he seems attracted to her so she is puzzled when he disappears without any explanation.
At nearly the same time, south of San Francisco, Sheriff Paul Del Moral (Pepe Serna) is involved in an accident on a heavily fog shrouded road. He strikes a pedestrian, near a seemingly abandoned car on the roadside. The injured Japanese man is transported to a local hospital but quickly disappears before the sheriff can begin his investigation.
The story is complicated but well scripted. The characters are well-played by the actors.
At several points during the film, I thought I had figured out what was going on and who was doing it. I was pleasantly surprised though, when I discovered that I hadn’t figured everything out.
There are a few things that may predispose some viewers to not finding the film palatable. The primary hurdle for some will be that the Japanese characters speak in Japanese. Subtitles are provided but I’m aware that some viewers dislike reading subtitles throughout a movie, feeling that the subtitles break up the flow of a film. Personally I don’t have a problem with reading subtitles in a film though I did have a bit of trouble with the translated dialogue in this movie but it was my own fault. I understand some Japanese but my ability is quite limited so I ran into trouble a few times trying to listen to the spoken Japanese dialog without relying on the subtitles and then trying to catch up and read the subtitle translation to be sure I wasn’t misinterpreting or misunderstanding the nuances of the dialog.
As an aside, I enjoy Japanese enka* music. I’ve often tried to translate the songs for my husband as we watched a popular Japanese TV song program on NHK, a Japanese channel. I understand the words for rain, snow, summer, winter, autumn, spring, happy, sad, lonely, etc. ...but I lose my place quickly while trying to listen and enjoy the music and translate it for my husband. I usually just end up telling him it’s a sad song and there’s rain (or snow) as appropriate, in it. My vocabulary is very limited. When I was viewing news footage of the Fukushima tsunami* in Japan, I couldn’t understand why the terrified people on the side of a hill were shouting “Early! Early!” to the fleeing people trying to outrun the huge wall of water. My mistake. They were actually shouting “Hurry! Hurry!” As I said, my vocabulary is very limited and my grammatical ability, in Japanese, is nearly nonexistent.
The second aspect of this film that may be problematic is that the ending may not be satisfying to some viewers. For me, I thought the film had the precise ending that it should have. To write more here, might spoil the ending for some viewers.
This is an independent film funded by a Kickstarter campaign. It was initially released on iTunes and later Netflix.
* Enka music is
often referred to as
“Japanese soul” music. It’s a Japanese style of music that’s popular
older generations of Japanese in particular.
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