When the people who made “The American Side” brag in promotional material about its “twisting, almost impenetrable plot,” they know what they’re talking about.
It’s film noir, all right. “Noir” means black, and that pretty much sums up the chances of figuring out for the next 103 minutes what’s going on.
Indie thriller “The American Side” has got some big secrets up its sleeves. The new features follows private eye Charlie Paczynski, whose life is thrown into disarray when his “raven-haired partner is caught in the crossfire of a blackmail scheme gone bad” and he takes it upon himself to “trail the prime suspect to the brink of Niagara, only to receive a cryptic warning,” all per the film’s official synopsis. Sounds standard enough, right? A little P.I. action, a little mystery, a cool location.
Female actors almost always get the short end of the stick in Hollywood regardless of the type of film, but one genre that is almost universally unkind to women is film noir. The women in these types of movies are practically always a conniving seductress, a hapless damsel, or a ditzy dame. But director Jenna Ricker is looking to change that with her new film, The American Side. This neo-noir is a crazy caper that turns the genre on its head with unexpected and complex characters, skillful injections of humor, an inventive plot, and a predominantly women-led cast.
Part “North by Northwest” and part “The Prestige,” Matthew Broderick’s new movie has him playing one-half of a mysterious pair of siblings (alongside Camilla Belle). “The American Side“ is a gumshoe thriller about a private investigator who takes on conspiracies involving a suicide at Niagara Falls and the foregone designs of famed innovator Nikola Tesla.
The Huffington Post has an exclusive clip from the movie, directed and co-written by Jenna Ricker. You can see Broderick in all of his enigmatic allure. “The American Side” is now available on iTunes.
This mystery sets out as a routine blackmail, but turns into a thriller involving the government and those that want to get rich quick. And then there’s a suicide at Niagara Falls that all leads to The American Side. Much like the gumshoe J.J. Gittes in Chinatown with the same kind of pace and impression, The American Side becomes compelling and intriguing.
Judging from “The American Side,” detectives who say things like “that’s a gene pool screaming for chlorine” and “there’s a joker in every deck” have spent the past several decades hiding in Buffalo — not an obvious graveyard for the spirits of Raymond Chandler and Mickey Spillane.
There, Charlie Paczynski (Greg Stuhr), a private investigator, has a side racket in blackmail with Kat (Kelsey Siepser), a stripper. When Kat is murdered, Charlie uncovers a mystery that involves enigmatic women (Camilla Belle, Alicja Bachleda), estranged energy magnates (Matthew Broderick, Robert Forster), the unrealized inventions of Nikola Tesla and — seemingly — whatever other character actors (Robert Vaughn, Harris Yulin, Janeane Garofalo) dropped by the set.
Mixing elements of neo-noir and conspiracy thriller, Jenna Ricker’s The American Side finds private investigator Charlie Paczynski (co-writer Greg Stuhr) becoming wrapped up in a case that dates back to the days of Nikola Tesla. Featuring all of the themes and set pieces that make mysteries so compelling, the film superbly balances a pulpy tone with a modern setting.
With a star-studded supporting cast featuring the likes of Camilla Belle, Janeane Garofalo, Matthew Broderick, and Robert Forster, the film consistently introduces new characters that always seem to know more than they initially let on.
The American Side is an ambitious thriller that seems like it takes place in the past. The film concerns Charlie Paczynski (Greg Stuhr), a private investigator who becomes entangled in a mysterious suicide, government conspiracies, and the inventions of Nikola Tesla. Paczynski’s car and outfits suggest the 1970s, there’s a distinct lack of cellphones, and, as Tesla becomes more central, the story takes on a slight element of the uncanny that could have been pushed further.
If you think Niagara Falls is a romantic spot, you probably haven’t seen Niagara with Marilyn Monroe and Joseph Cotten. Hopefully, you are also unfamiliar with local P.I. Charlie Paczynski, who specializes in the sleaziest divorce cases possible. When the stripper-partner he employs for honey trap scams is rather inconveniently murdered, the Polish detective will blunder into a far-reaching conspiracy in Jenna Ricker’s The American Side (trailer here), which opens this Friday in New York.
When a film shot in Buffalo, NY co-written and starring a native of the city comes across you’re desk you look upon it with a certain level of skepticism. I’ve lived here almost my entire life and I’m still guilty of seeing my hometown as a B-level sector in comparison to New York City or Hollywood. This year has changed that thought-process for locals and the industry with two effective genre works exiting the Queen City with aspirations