17 May 2004 | secragt
Initially Shaky, Increasingly Clever, Ultimately Quite Enjoyable
To say this is a noir curiosity is to say The Bible has some colorful characters and quaint storytelling. Takes a good half hour to get going, but for those who keep faith, some serious plot twists and rather impressive surprises are in store, including one which takes the basic brilliant twist of CHINATOWN and goes it one better. It's very difficult to discuss this movie without spoiling things, however, so suffice to say there is more going on than meets the eye (frankly too much), and the filmmakers set out a challenging premise and very nearly pull off the impossible resolution. That they finally don't quite do it is almost more of a relief than a surprise, because given the dollar fifty budget and clear guerilla student filmmaking style which permeates this apparent vanity project for Ferrer, it would have been embarrassing had they actually hit a home run for about 1/10,000th of the cost of a typical low budget studio noir.
However, this is enough of a near-miss that anyone who is interested in noir (especially the iconic detective stuff personified by Mitchum and Bogart and Powell and Montgomery) would probably benefit from a look. The tone uneasily shifts between mockumentary and b-movie gumshoe melodrama, but occasionally succeeds at both just enough that the excursion is worth it for fans. Those who aren't patient will probably just scratch their head, but I'd guess if you've read this far, you are one of those who would enjoy it. Ferrer makes the most of his ample screentime. The rest of the cast are unknown to me; the black cameraman cum private eye has a few amusing moments, including the mugging of a few rather familiar lines of dialogue. 7.5 / 10