Pretty, noir, nineties-ish, but also a bit nothing.
I want to first say that this film is very, very beautiful and well put together. The lighting is atmospheric, the shot composition is pleasing, the edits all make coherent sense. The acting is pretty good, although I don’t think anyone really pushes any envelopes very far from anyone’s comfort zone. They’re all good actors and they do good acting. All of this is gorgeous on screen.
I wanted to then say there should be legislation to put a timestamp clearly at the start of period film pieces. Apparently this one did have one, and I missed it, so maybe the font needs to be bigger. Because I spent at least the first half hour trying to figure out “when” we were. This is perhaps part of the “mystery appeal” of this film, so don’t read the next section because it contains some possible historical spoilers.
There were the obvious markers, no mobile phones, landlines with push buttons, computers running green DOS-looking stuff. But then there were confusing elements like carparks full on seventies looking cars. One wonders if the lack of collector value/durability in 90s models has rendered this particular era hard to remake. I mean don’t get me wrong, 70s cars are great, but I don’t think I saw that many epic ones still around in the 90s. Maybe this is a specific city issue.
Anyway, as best I could guess at this stage we were somewhere in the 90s. But then up jumped a photocopied flyer-poster for No Doubt. This made me certain we were probably mid-90s. But you know what, when trying to google my way out of this time-warp I found out No Doubt actually started right back in 1986. So my No Doubt certainty was actually pretty doubtful.
In content this is a pretty standard detectives-driven-mad-by-serial-killer type set up. There are, upon reflection, many nuanced little observations you can make if you’re a detectivey type watcher. Then after the film you can sit down with others and discuss what you saw and what it ended up meaning. That amazing charm on the keyring, the girl from the start, the red barette. Who dunnit? Who knows. If anyone knows what the story is with the boots and why those are important please do spill in the comments… we all agree they were somehow important but none of us know why.
It is a slow film, and its period-lack of CSI/NCIS/FBI type machines and forensic analysis make it feel, well, old. And this script is old – it’s been in development for three decades. And then if you go back to the 90s to compare, you’ll find perhaps the best crime/mystery/thriller of all, Se7en. And watching this does feel a lot like Seven. But Seven is dense and moist, seven is strong and flavourful. In comparison, this is like cordial that’s been watered down too far.
It’s also very slow. Most of the female characters are dead bodies. There’s a lot of three moody men being moody. There is a lot of driving in cars, but it’s not as annoying as in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood.
It’s not terrible, but it’s not great either.
J* gives it 3 stars.