Clyde Cooper, 2018.
Directed by Peter Daskaloff.
Starring Jordi Vilasuso, Abigail Titmuss, Richard Neil, Aria Sirvaitis, Isabella Racco, Joanna Fyllidou.
A California private detective is hired to investigate the disappearance of a missing lover. But as the mystery escalates, strange people and a Silicon Valley organisation get involved.
From the man behind eternal classics such as Sex and the Single Alien comes Clyde Cooper, a neo-noir murder mystery that wears its inspirations on its sleeve, and wears its semi in its pants. The convoluted tale begins similarly to Polanski’s Chinatown, with a central mystery regarding mysterious females. Taking place in “some time in the not too distant future”, we’re introduced to two what we can only presume to be prostitutes seducing a soon-to-be-revealed impotent man. “What’s going on down there?” they ask, as he then requests some “girl-on-girl”. Cue bloodshed, and the story begins.
The opening credits introduce us to our lead, Cooper (Vilasuso), in a fashion akin to that of a PS2 game that wants to be cinematic. Muddled captions, puzzling lighting, and all-round cheesy. But the story does have an element of intrigue, and remarkably, Daskaloff really keeps the cards close to his chest through the snappy runtime.
The direction is relatively smooth and doesn’t often reveal its weaknesses, despite its budgetary nature. There’s some real ambition to string together a decent noir, packing it out with lavish drone shots and the jazz band score from Jonathan Price greatly assists in setting the tone. Cooper even leads us through the narrative with a stereotypical husky narration, essentially ticking off another box on the genre playbook.
Daskaloff even goes to great efforts to strip away tedious titbits of storytelling in order to progress the plot to the more meaty sections, particularly refreshing in a piece that could have so easily fell under an artistic thumb. And it’s going really well until about 30 minutes in, and the whole thing falls apart. There’s the introduction of villains that to call them pantomimic would be an insult to the theatre’s sacred legacy, sloppily convenient plot devices such as body-cams so small we had no idea they were there, and a tale marooned within its own murky waters it only rises to the surface in the remaining 20 minutes.
Other than Vilasuso, who has great potential for a smouldering lead but loses himself amidst a storm of hilarious hard stares and pouting, no other cast member is really given anything to do other than to quiz the investigator about his actions (a shame considering Lou Wagner’s police chief could have elevated the film massively), or flirt with him right until the point he’s hit over the head. That’s the thing, the flirting and the sexual energy that flows through Clyde Cooper is off-the-charts. He’s a total misogynist with an appetite for almost every woman he meets and a handful of absolutely, tremendously appalling pick-up lines to bait them. “Most fires start in the kitchen,” he says to a rapidly-blinking lady. “You’re so gorgeous, I’d drink your bathwater,” he goes on. The script, also penned by Daskaloff, has more in common with a porn parody (and a bad one at that) than the neo-noir template it tries to imitate.
There’s some mild innovation in the closing act; a particularly well-done sequence features a piano staircase employed to great comedic extent. Plus a genuinely startling revelation saves the film from utter redundancy, but as a work of film, if you spliced in some penetration, this would do the rounds on the adult film circuit in a minute.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★