What has the title of a ’50s Republic oater yet plays like a film noir reboot of It Happened One Night? This year’s contribution from SDAFF regular Dave Boyle! Known for his string of inspired romantic comedies (Surrogate Valentine, Daylight Savings), writer-director Dave Boyle now finds himself making a successful leap to the dark side with this decidedly “hard-Boyled” thriller. Her sudden, self-imposed departure from society finds Aki (Ayako Fujitani) — an internationally best-selling author of spy novels endowed with a potentially career-crippling secret of her own — cast as a central figure in a real-life crime investigation. Aki hasn’t run out of ideas, she just “wants to see it end.” With a straight razor for a tub toy, it’s difficult to discern whether she’s referring to her popularity or her life. Add to this the parallel story of Paul Del Moral, an aging small-town sheriff (played with quiet, seen-it-all aplomb by character actor luminary Pepe Serna) who crosses paths with Aki when her mysterious one-night stand turns out to be his subject of pursuit. Boyle’s general affinity for black-and-white filming is felt in every frame of this low-key Technicolor spin through the streets of San Francisco. Reno opens with an austere, rain-slicked nod to Robert Aldrich’s L.A.-based Kiss Me Deadly before proceeding to pay tribute to a cluster of San Francisco–based noirs, most notably The Maltese Falcon and Vertigo. If there’s one complaint to be voiced, it’s over the lack of balance between the converging stories. Aki’s tale of seduction and abandonment has a tendency to overshadow, leaving us wanting more interplay between Paul and his daughter (Elisha Skorman), a girl eagerly following in her father’s flat footsteps. (2014) — Scott Marks
This movie is not currently in theaters.