Directed by: Dennis Hauck
Written by: Dennis Hauck
Other cast: Crystal Reed, Natalie Zea, Jeff Fahey, Robert Forster, John Hawkes, Brett Jacobsen
Release date: June 11, 2015
Genre: Drama , Mystery , Thriller
Running time: 1hr 47min
A private investigator (John Hawkes) scours the streets of Los Angeles to track down a missing woman from his past. He then finds himself tangled up in sleazy scandal involving strip clubs, petty drug dealers, and missing girls.
Each of the scenes was shot in a single take on a single 2000 foot 35mm film reel.
The film follows a nonlinear narrative: it consists of five segments which are presented out of chronological order. The five segments are described here in the order they appear in the film.
Stripper Dorothy Mahler hikes on a nature trail outside Los Angeles and arranges to meet private investigator Mel Samson, whom she first met some time earlier, saying she needs his help. While waiting for Samson to arrive, Dorothy takes ecstasy from two dimwitted drug dealers, Jesse and Matthew, and is approached by a perky park ranger named Skippy Fontaine. Dorothy and Fontaine converse until it is revealed that Fontaine has murdered a real park ranger and stolen his uniform. He strangles Dorothy to death. Jesse and Matthew come across her body and believe that she overdosed on the drugs they sold her, running away in fear. Samson arrives to find Dorothy dead, moments too late.
In the second segment, Samson arrives at the home of sleazy strip club owner Gordy, claiming he’s been in a car accident and needs to use their phone. He speaks with Gordy’s much-younger, neglected wife, Janet, and has a drink. When Samson eventually comes face to face with Gordy and Roger Fontaine, Skippy’s father, he reveals his real identity and details the motivation of Dorothy’s murder: Dorothy had photographs of Gordy receiving oral sex from another stripper, and Gordy arranged Dorothy’s murder to keep Janet from finding out. Janet is incensed by Samson’s story of her husband’s infidelity and retrieves a gun. Provoked by Samson, she shoots Gordy and Roger to death, before (despite Samson’s protests) turning the gun on herself. Samson remarks to himself that he needs to get his life together.
The third segment occurs first chronologically. Samson sits in a strip club and is offered a lap dance from a performer named Jill, which he declines. He meets Dorothy and asks her to get a drink with him, but she distracts him and leaves without him noticing. Samson walks to a neighboring club where a friend’s band is performing live music. He finds Dorothy waiting for him and she joins him in a photo booth. He performs a song on a guitar.
The fourth segment occurs last chronologically. Jill works at a drive-in movie theater, where she’s approached by Samson, who has a non-deadly bullet wound in his chest. They discuss their yearlong romantic relationship, which ended sometime earlier. Samson reveals that he’s come to the theater to confront one of its patrons: Skippy Fontaine. He enters Fontaine’s car with a gun pointed at him, but Fontaine manages to stab him in the abdomen with a broken bottle and escape. Jill joins Samson in the car and holds him as he dies, pointing out the “Jilly Bean” tattoo he got in her honor.
In the final segment, Samson is approached by Dorothy’s grandmother and childish mother about taking her case, but he insists on doing it at no cost, out of loyalty to Dorothy. Speaking privately to Dorothy’s mother, Mary, Samson reminds her through an allegory that they had had a relationship many years earlier, revealing that Samson was Dorothy’s father and had watched her grow up from a distance her whole life. Walking to his car, Samson is attacked and shot in the chest by Jesse and Matthew, who believe Dorothy died from the drugs they gave her and don’t want to be implicated in Samson’s investigation. They flee, and Samson enters his car with painful but survivable injuries. Energized by the photos he and Dorothy took in the photo booth the night they met, he starts his car and drives off.