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Poolman (2024) — Movie Review

In his first foray into directing, Chris Pine brings forth "Poolman," a whimsical character comedy that brilliantly satirizes vintage detective films. Pine wears multiple hats as he co-writes, co-produces, and even plays the lead character, Darren Barrenman. Replete with a hefty beard, long hair, and an offbeat personality, Darren is a pool cleaner living in a small trailer next to a pool in a revamped Tiki-style motel.

The film exudes a certain nostalgia, with a touch of ambiguity about its timeline. Though seemingly set in the present, the absence of cell phones and the prevalent use of pre-1950s influence in set design and attire suggest otherwise. Echoes of the past permeate the story, from the villain's vintage roadster to the retro- jazz soundtrack underpinning the film.

The storyline swirls around real estate corruption involving a local councilman, Stephen Toronkowsky, intertwining references from classic Los Angeles movies such as "Chinatown" and "Who Framed Roger Rabbit."

However, plot is secondary in "Poolman," which primarily rides on vibes. Darren, an endearing and handsome man-child, is captivating in his journey of self-discovery, exploring his relationships and even his part in a documentary.

Poolman (2024) — Movie Review

"Poolman" is, indeed, a peculiar film, but in an engaging manner. It’s friendly and low-key, with just a sprinkle of conflict and resolution. Chris Pine brings to life a unique cinema experience, one that avoids the traditional path and embraces a more lighthearted approach often seen in Nicecore films.

The film does contain slight parallels to "The Big Lebowski" and other LA noir spoofs. However, it seems to be a more rustic version of Jim Jarmusch's Nicecore classic "Paterson," and at times an unlikely reflection of "Taxi Driver."

"Poolman" elicits a sense of connection with its characters, be it through the protagonist's origami gifts or the unexpected candid mutual understanding during a confrontation. It delights in its subtle absurdity, even including an unusual dream sequence voiced by Pine's father.

This unconventional style results in a charmingly innocent film that offers a refreshingly different cinematic experience. Despite mixed reviews and its debut at the Toronto Film Festival last year, "Poolman" holds charm in its quirky, buoyant approach. It's a type of filmmaking cinema could do with more of and paves the way for Pine's evolution as a director, filled with promise and sublime potential.