Fantastic Fest 2014 Review: MAN FROM RENO

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

This mystery thriller features an exceptional international cast and definitely delivers intrigue, thrills and awe-inspiring twists.  Man From Reno stars Ayako Fujitani as Aki, a jaded mystery novelist who has grown tired of the promotional circuit and just wants to get away for a while. Ending up in San Francisco, Aki meets a mysterious stranger named Akira (Kazuki Kitamura), a man with whom she becomes enamored.  As soon their passionate romance heats up, Akira disappears and some shady characters come looking for him.  At the same time a small town sheriff (Pepe Serna) investigates the mysterious death of an unidentified Asian man who appeared to be on the run from some shady associates of his own.  When the sheriff connects his Asian stranger to Akira, he and Aki attempt uncover a strange criminal plot and the bizarre truth about Akira’s past.

This solidly written and directed movie by Dave Boyle works so effectively because it keeps audiences enthralled, on the edge of their seats and on their toes.  Boyle, who co-wrote the screenplay with Joel Clark and Michael Lerman, makes a career leap from comedies to mystery and does it quite well.  The writing by Boyle, Clark and Lerman mislead and misdirect the audience and then stuns them with their surprises.  The performances by Fujitani, Kitamura and Serna are extraordinary.  The overall plot, in hindsight, isn’t anything audiences haven’t experience, but the effectiveness in presenting the mysteries of the film and keeping them mysterious and unpredictable make this a must see.


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