Since so few reviews on this, and I had been fortunate to get the chance to see it shown, thought I should add another: as I understand that the director, Dennis Hauk having made it in now becoming so rare 'celluloid' filmstock (at 35 mm, too), also 'directed' it should only be released and shown in circumstances that would do it justice i.e. only at theatres that can still project film, and not appear in any digital - homes' use DVD etc – format: so for that alone, for any cinephile, cinema fan, it should be sought out.And indeed, by which to savour a rapidly becoming bygone experience, that of the rich colours and softer visual tones that original filmstock undoubtedly allows for – close up, big screen skin tones, especially – beauty, as of 'main' (?) actress, Crystal Reed, but plus including all their imperfections too, viz grizzled Robert Forster: .. and not only that, but delivered through another cinematic speciality, in that it unfolds in five continuous standard reel lengths (c.20 minutes) each (as like Hitchcock's famous attempt in 'Rope'); these all self contained vignettes of a whole, which you must slot together in the right order to get the plot line: but perhaps it is for these technicalities alone that is all this film really has to offer, to stand out worth a watch: in that being not, I would argue as others have (carelessly?) assessed, a film noir (which, come on, just has to be in even older traditional black and white? - whereas this is sumptuous colour) but is actually, of the 'gumshoe' genre. In which respect, lead player John Hawks turns in a superb suitably shabby performance.But these conceits in effect restrict the format so much so that it soon becomes clearly - stiltedly so in some dialogue exchanges, and despite, admittedly impressive fluid camera movements - so theatrical in parts, since although the camera can move about within its 20 minute (2000 feet) of film allowance, still the actors have to deliver their lines correctly to ensure the take is not ruined of course, which results in the theatrical staid like (no second take) delivery in certain segments: yet, that should be the advantage of film over theatre: that the plot and lines unfolding can so be cut and edited up to more replicate a real life style.In this respect, then some is just a little too obviously staged: e.g. the 'I'll just sit down and impromptu strum the guitar and sing' scene, where even a background violin player just happens to similarly impromptu accompany, are really only for the effect of 'wow didn't they choreograph that well?', I feel. On the other hand, another of these uninterrupted unspooling vignettes ends in an impressive shock scene (although you can see the set up telegraphed coming, half way through its 'reel') and another centred around a fast, if not already gone, disappearing into history drive in, showing a homage to film itself, in just incidentally involving how the huge horizontal reels used to be operated, is pleasing to see utilised.Otherwise, to be honest, the conceit soon becomes too contrived, so much so to begin to (irritatingly?) distract you from what should be the engrossing story, not constantly being sidelined by intrusive clever cinematic camera direction, because you are in on the way it has been made. (Big kudos though to those steadicam operators!)Then, as for the 'essential to the plot' reason dishabille of Vail Bloom portrayed, is (if undoubtedly insouciantly sexy) surely simply quite gratuitous! And for all the one continuous take bally ho, there is at the close, an obvious cut / edits – almost as though they had run out of time, manoeuvring to get across to the audience how it all fits together ..Clever – very clever (and film stock soft attractive) – but ultimately, unarresting.
It was an amazing experience. It's a narrative told in a very nonlinear style. The first thing I thought of was Tarantino, but it's very not Tarantino, as it's not heavy on Trivial dialog, it's very to the point and counts on the emotion of these well designed characters.characters well done that come alive with great actors. Lead by John Hawkes the actors all had amazing chemistry with each other. I was surprised by how many actors I actually knew on this small film. Like Rider Strong from Boy meets World and Robert Forester, to name just two. It's really worth it to catch it on a screen showing it in 35mm. The camera work and the cinematography add so much to the personality of the film.Pure enjoyment, highly recommended.
Decided to see this at the LA Film Fest for a chance at seeing John Hawkes in action. I was not familiar with writer/director Dennis Hauck but will keep an eye out for him in the future--I think he shows a lot of promise."Too Late" is an ambitious contemporary film noir in five non-sequential acts, each of which is shot in a single take. As far as directorial "tricks" go this is one of my favorites, and Haucks executes it very well, without sacrificing movement or dynamism in the scenes. One unexpected result is that you are aware of the camera more than in most films, especially where the varied lighting, extremely long zooms and tough focal situations really make you feel the mechanical limitations of the camera and 35mm film. Whether this is intentional or not it's a nice nod to what is becoming a dying format.The plot itself is fairly well represented in the genre: a beautiful woman (self-referenced as a "stripper with a heart of gold") calls for help from a private eye (Hawkes) and is subsequently murdered. This film spares us the investigative aspect of the ensuing drama and instead focuses on the emotional response of the characters. The following acts show us the aftermath, fill out the backstory, and finally provide some closure by revealing a plot twist that, while not entirely unpredictable, reframes the entire film in a very fresh and interesting way. Kudos to Haucks for the excellent ending, which is a trick that many miss but goes a long way towards creating a positive feeling about the film.The acting is generally excellent, led by Hawkes who fill the grizzled gumshoe role admirably. He's a very self-effacing actor who follows the "less is more" philosophy, and delivers his character convincingly even when it's clear the dialogue is getting a bit carried away. Also notable is Dichen Lachman, who has continued to up her game and is becoming an actor worth following.If I have any complaint about the film it's that Haucks seems to be emulating Tarantino a bit too closely, especially in the writing department. I think it's a fine idea to do a Pulp Fiction-style take on the noir genre, but I could do with less of the long-winded, dense, occasionally incomprehensible dialogue that's packed with more external references than a Joyce novel. A few too many eye-roll-inducing lines take a bit of the shine of what is an otherwise very enjoyable film, but it is well worth seeing nonetheless.