John Rosow is a P.I., hired off a cold-call to trail a man. It turns out he's distinctly bad at his jobonce he's got his mark in sight, he starts slamming martinis and, tall and unsteady, makes a conspicuous tail. Rosowplayed by Michael Shannon, whose rumpled face suggests harrowing knowledge and unmade bedsis introduced grunting through a gummy hangover mouth, his leak of complaining noises never stopped up. After a leisurely pursuit from Chicago to L.A. to Mexico, he hauls his prey back East, where they'll confront NYC and the memories they abandoned there. The date will be established as post-9/11, but Rosow is a culture-shocked noir refugee, befuddled by camera phones, chastised for smoking by a cop on Segway, and photographed in raspy, desaturated HD instead of his native black-and-white. Auteur Noah Buschel's film references touchstones of the lonesome 1930sone of Rosows flashbacks reproduces Edward Hoppers New York Movie; his targets backstory, an ordinary life amputated by close-call trauma, borrows from Hammetts Maltese Falconall of which is well and artsy, but doesnt diminish the sense, once the mystery has untangled, that the film has been gesturing toward a profundity that isn't there.
Dec. 25-31, 2009