As I sat in my room, wondering what to watch next on Netflix, I stumbled upon an article on Indiewire talking about small cinematic gems that currently inhabited the streaming service. Among them, was a film that had been talked about a lot when the first trailer was released and everyone was talking about how cool it was a film was still being released on 35mm film but then, all conversation seemed to vanish upon the film’s release. The film got mostly positive reviews but no one seemed to be talking about it, so, curious about Too Late’s nature I decided to stay in my room and watch the film.
I must begin this review by stating facts, John Hawkes doesn’t get enough love. Not only is he a tremendous talent who perfectly transitions from one character to another, but Hawkes has always supported great independent cinema by starring in films like Me and You and Everyone We Know or Winter’s Bone. He crushes it every-time he’s on-screen and Too Late is no exception. Inhabiting that tough P.I. attitude present in films like The Long Goodbye, Hawkes takes that character and places him in today’s world without it seeming out of place. He’s honestly a great lead, playing the drama side of things as well as he handles the comedy and the innate cockiness attached to the archetype he’s acting out. When this film began, I had to admit I was worried about the quality of acting in this film as two bumbling drug-dealers first pop onto the screen, but once they dissolve from the picture the acting is this film is actually really good, especially that of John Hawkes’s performance.
Something else I really admired about Dennis Hauck’s apart from his direction of acting is how well he was able to replicate the mood and feel of those old-school pulpy private detective tales about hardboiled crime that seem to have faded away from the cinematic landscape. Trimming the film like Pulp Fiction and directing it like a suspenseful noire, Hauck hearkens back to a really interesting take on the crime genre that seems to have been forgotten but is wildly entertaining nonetheless. Bill Fernandez’s take on the film’s cinematography is also spectacular, choosing to shoot every fragment of time with riveting tracking shots that seem to go on forever but work perfectly with the mind-set of the filmmaker, proving Too Late to not only be an incredibly interesting film but also a technical marvel.
With that said, Too Late isn’t a perfect film. It’s not just the annoyance brought about by the bumbling drug-dealers’ performances, but it’s also the heavy-handed approach that Hauck takes sometimes when trying to replicate that stylized feel of a really specific type of crime genre films. There is also a problem that arises with the way the film concludes because even though it adds a greater significance to the film’s title and does present us with a shocking revelation, the ending does appear to be incredibly artificial and convenient once you actually put more thought into it. At first the ending blows you away but once you actually rewind and put some thought into it that feeling kind of dissolves and you’re left with a sense of indifference towards an finale that should be emotionally impactful.
To finalize this review, Too Late is an indie gem roaming the Netflix catalogue that presents us with a great throwback to films of an era long gone. Too Late does have some issues but all in all has enough good performances in it, especially that of Hawkes’s, that the good outweighs the bad. Hauck’s direction although sometimes excessive in trying to recapture the feeling of those old crime stories does work for the most part and translates those tales to modernity in a really interesting way. Not to be forgotten is also Bill Fernandez’s magnificent cinematography and how it visualizes memories so memorably. All in all, Too Late is a nice little film that will cheer you up if you happen to stumble upon it and watch it on a boring afternoon.