(Starz/VOD) I have a hard time believing this film wasn’t pitched as ‘gritty adult Encyclopedia Brown’ (and then whomever was being pitched probably replied ‘Encyclo-what?’) but even if it wasn’t, it works as a pretty succinct summary.

As I grew up reading ENCYCLOPEDIA BROWN and TWO-MINUTE MYSTERIES, and love Chandler-esque detective fiction in general, I was already on this film’s side. While it’s much more subdued, quiet, and cynical than I thought it’d be, debut feature writer/director Evan Morgan clearly loves the genre and is surprisingly unwilling to poke fun at it, or even to modernize it. (For a film that takes place in modern day, it’s surprisingly reliant on landline phones.)

While some may be turned off by the dourness of the film — there are cutting remarks and laughs to be had, but the film is soaked in melancholy — it’s a welcome surprise to see a neo-noir that isn’t peppered with flippancy.