The self-deprecating filmmaker (he says he failed the only film class he’s ever taken) is piling up awards on the festival circuit and winning audience raves.
“Originally I wanted to do a “team up” movie (a la Lethal Weapon) but where the central team was way more mismatched than usual,” said Boyle to AsAmNews. “The idea of a Latino Sheriff past retirement age and a Japanese mystery author crossing paths…well, I just felt like I hadn’t seen that before. That said, I also wanted them to feel like separate stories at first and not connect until late in the story. Michael (Lerman) and Joel (Clark), my co-writers, helped me shape the story from that initial idea.”
The film stars Pepe Serna as Sheriff Del Moral who was driving his car in a fog shrouded road outside San Francisco and hits a pedestrian, a lone Japanese man. That man would later disappear from the hospital before Del Moral could talk to him. Dissolve to Ayako Fujitani who plays Aki, a best selling mystery writer in Japan. Aki is burned out from the demands of the media and her fans and goes into hiding in San Francisco. There she meets a mysterious Japanese man from Reno, Akira Azuki (played by Kazuki Kitamura). The two strike up a romantic affair, but before the relationship gets too deep, he disappears.
Boyle speaks fluent Japanese and Aki and Akira converse in much of the film in Japanese. Man From Reno picks up on a trend seen in other Boyle films — Big Dreams Little Tokyo, White On Rice, Surrogate Valentine. All the films feature many Asian characters. His comfort level with a multi-cultural cast is obvious.
“I think it comes from being accustomed to a multicultural environment,” he said. “It never crossed my mind as something to be uncomfortable about!
“The whole project (Man From Reno) started out as a collaboration with a Japanese production company–so it was only natural that 50% of the story be about Japanese characters.”
Boyle sees his Japanese characters as an integral part of the story. While those characters could have been of any nationality, he says doing so would have changed the whole nature of his film.
“I think many of the narrative threads would be completely different,” said Boyle. “Much of the subtext in the film would be completely gone, and since so many clues hinge on Japanese language clues the mystery itself would be fundamentally altered!”
Man From Reno opens in San Francisco tomorrow and wraps up in Pasadena and Philadelphia tonight. It’s also playing in New York, Los Angeles, Torrance, Irvine and Ashland. It plays in Tucson for one night only on the 16th.
Boyle hopes Man From Reno is seen “widely seen by millions of people” and leads “to another directing assignment!” Its a film that really does deserve wider distribution. You can see if the film is coming to a town near you on its website.