Too Late (NR)

Drama 107 min. March 18, 2016
By Michael Nordine
You've seen a lot of movies like Too Late, and yet you haven't. Shot over several years on 35mm, Dennis Hauck's neo-noir detective drama is only being shown theatrically in that increasingly rarefied format. It's also divided into five nonlinear segments, each composed of a single continuous take lasting the length of one reel of film (22 minutes).

The first of these uninterrupted shots is also the most masterful. It begins when a woman who's seen something she shouldn't have places a call on a cellphone borrowed from two self-reflexive drug dealers. The camera moves away from Dodger Stadium–adjacent Radio Hill and does an extreme zoom toward a run-down apartment building a good mile away, where anxious private investigator Sampson (John Hawkes) seems to be awaiting her call. He abruptly ends the conversation and drives off to meet the young woman after she tells him where she is, and the camera drifts back to the park -- though not before lingering on the downtown skyline. It's at once lo-fi and virtuosic, the kind of shot you can imagine a filmmaker dreaming up long before writing an actual script, and more than worth hanging the entire opening around.

The same goes for Hawkes, whose tired detective registers as a latter-day Philip Marlowe -- more Elliott Gould than Humphrey Bogart. Still, the more Too Late becomes about the answers to its whodunnit questions rather than the process, the more it begins to feel like Hauck hasn't fully absorbed the lessons of the films he adores. But like the hardboiled detectives of yore, Too Late ultimately gets the job done -- even if it's in its own off-the-books way.
Dennis Hauck John Hawkes, Vail Bloom, Joanna Cassidy, Jeff Fahey, Robert Forster, Brett Jacobsen, Dichen Lachman, Robert Forster, Dash Mihok, Sydney Tamiia Poitier Dennis Hauck Alexandra Barreto, Taylor Feltner mTuckman Media

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