Rosow (Shannon) is an L.A. private investigator with drunk-like-a-fox timing and a thousand craggy shadows of oblivion in his face. He wakes up to find himself handed a strange assignment—tail a guy (Wood) apparently on the run with a Mexican boy—that’s deeply intertwined with his own personal traumas. What makes the high-def noir applicable for “neo” status is the angle (instead of World War II, the primal wound is 9/11) and Rosow’s self-conscious anachronism (he’s all thumbs with cell phones). But it’s Shannon’s slow, steady world of hurt that makes the film watchable; haunted by visions of a departed lover, Rosow is a man sleepwalking through life, sure-footed but stuck.
Filmmaker Noah Buschel also salts the feature with overwritten side-character doodles (a cop on a Segway, a cabbie dropping Serpico and Google references) and occasional attempts to mimic the drift of Altman’s The Long Goodbye instead of sticking to its own, quite viable haze. And though Ryan Samul’s textured cinematography makes the stubble and shadows seem nearly 3-D, the story chokes on a dull twist from Rosow’s past. Still, the private dick’s case liaison is played by Amy Ryan—always nice to have around—and Shannon finally proves he can do more than an edge-of-derangement drawl.—Nicolas Rapold
Opens Fri; AMC Village VII. Find showtimes
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