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Explores the tangled relationship between a troubled private investigator and the missing woman he's hired to help find.

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Too Late movie full length review - Neo-Noir, Neo-Bogey, Nice.

"I didn't know I was doing film noir, I thought they were detective stories with low lighting!" Marie Windsor

I have a neo-noir you can't refuse: Too Late. For a title vibrating with despair like that of The Big Sleep, In a Lonely Place, The Long Goodbye, and A Touch of Evil, Too Late reeks of a dark, desperate, disorienting world where a soulful and soulless private detective named Mel Sampson (John Hawkes) searches for meaning among L.A.'s damned passengers. Many of those souls are dames, femme fatals if you will, beautiful in a cheap way but deeper emotionally than you'd expect and fraught with danger for anyone who cares about them.

Shot in 35 mm Techniscope or 2-perf with five 20-minute uncut chapters, Too Late is bound to be a classic take on the detective genre memorable for such hard-boiled shamuses as Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade. References to directors like Alan Rudolph and Robert Altman, not to mention Quentin Tarantino, certify first-time feature writer and director Dennis Hauck's goal to participate in the pleasantly depressive genre.

Tired detective Sampson searches for a pretty young stripper, Dorothy (Crystal Reed). and eventually her murderer, now and then showing his long hair and strength but just as vulnerable as his biblical name suggests. As for her, well, dare I speculate she was searching for some rainbow's end? She was witty and vulnerable, "lost" in Elysian Park's Radio Hill of Los Angeles while encountering two drug-dealing thugs (Dash Mihok, Rider Strong) and a garrulous park ranger (Brett Jacobsen), all of whom could have as easily played in Pulp Fiction given their penchant for witty talk laced with cinematic references.

Just as memorable and just as noir-naughty are Robert Forster's wealthy strip-club owner, Gordy Lyons; his dangerously desperate wife, Janet (Vail Bloom); and Dorothy's former stripper grandmother, played by Joanna Cassidy, who appeared in the cult classic Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead, referenced here no doubt to geeks' glee.

Although I've not mentioned much plot in this review, you get the idea that various fringey L. A. lost-soul types are the interest in this noir homage, at least to my nostalgic, crime-porned, cinema-drenched sensibility.

"One difference between film noir and more straightforward crime pictures is that noir is more open to human flaws and likes to embed them in twisty plot lines." Roger Ebert