Too Late (2016)
Cast includes: Crystal Reed (Crazy, Stupid, Love), Dichen Lachman (Dollhouse), John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone), Robert Forster (Jackie Brown), Dash Mihok (Silver Linings Playbook), Jeff Fahey (The Lawnmower Man), Rider Strong (Cabin Fever)
Writer/Director: Dennis Hauck (Al’s Beef, Sunday Punch)
Genre: Drama | Mystery | Noir (107 minutes)
Damn! Dorothy’s flip phone is outta juice. Up here on Radio Hill, the view of LA is spectacular, but what are you gonna do when you need to make a call? The camera pans over to two drug dealers coming up the hill sharing their views about movies… “Most movies start out as a simple misunderstanding…. What if your character in the movie has a video of the movie and can replay the part before the part?” (Maybe they’ve been sampling too much of the goods, because this conversation is getting weird.) “It was just an ordinary day until a hot piece of ass came into view.” They’re talking about Dorothy in her short cut-offs and red sweatshirt. She’s hoping to borrow a phone. “Hello. Remember me? I know it was 3 years ago…” she says to the guy on the other end. “I remember,” says Sampson. Dorothy needs to see him… he’s on the way. “How about an introduction?” they say when she returns the phone. “We’re drug dealers.” But Dorothy says she doesn’t really “do that kind of thing.” “On the house!” they say. Well OK… maybe some ecstasy. Damn… the guys gotta run for now... “You stay right here!”
The next chance meeting on Radio Hill is the guy in the tree eating an apple… the park ranger. “Up here, there are lovers, dreamers and me.” Dorothy is a dreamer… and a dancer. “Maybe the dirty kind?” the ranger suggests. “And which are you?” Dorothy asks. The ranger says he’s not a lover or a dreamer… he’s “the another sort…” Dorothy is distracted… “Trouble at work… I saw something I shouldn’t have.” “Don’t you hate it when you got something good going on, and someone comes along and messes it up?” says the ranger. “That’s the problem with strippers and gangsters,” he adds. For a park ranger, he sure seems well informed.
Sampson wastes no time getting there, but he arrives too late. From Radio Hill, the next act takes place in the hilltop home of Gordy Lyons. Old Gordy and his friend Roger love complaining about their trophy wives. The gals look like ex-strippers and the old guys look like… maybe gangsters? But we’re not sure if there’s a connection to the first act until Sampson shows up. In fact, every act in this quirky noir/thriller seems out of place until things play out. The movie-within-a-movie idea the drug dealers talked about turns out to be exactly how the plot of Too Late unfolds. Part retro detective story and part weird acid trip, we’re not quite sure if writer/director Dennis Hauck knows what he’s doing… until the end. Miraculously, all the parts come together with some ingenious surprises along the way. This will leave some moviegoers wondering why they paid for a ticket and others declaring its brilliance. If degree of difficulty counts for anything, this story has it… and you’ve got to admire how it all comes together. The seedy retro atmosphere along with the casting/acting is perfect. And in keeping with the classic noir genre, even the good guys are shady. The script is laced with artful, wicked double entendres, and you have to pay attention if you’re going to catch all of them and follow the convoluted path of the narrative. Noir fans… you know who you are. “Up here, there are lovers, dreamers and… the other sort.” If you’re the other sort, Too Late is like legal ecstasy.
3 popped kernels
A noir mystery that feels like they scrambled the film reels… until you find out they didn’t
Rated: R (Language, Nudity, Violence, Sexual Content, Crime, Drugs)
Audience: Young Adults
Gender Style: Bold
Distribution: Mainstream Limited Release
Tempo: Cruises Comfortably
Visual Style: Nicely Varnished Realism with enhanced effects
Nutshell: Murder mystery