Hayley Law Is Tremendous In Avan Jogia’s Vivid Neo-Noir
Feb 12, 2023
Home Movie Reviews Door Mouse Review: Hayley Law Is Tremendous In Avan Jogia’s Vivid Neo-Noir
If there is any justice, Door Mouse will garner the attention it deserves for being a well-defined narrative brought to life effectively.
Hayley Law in Door Mouse
Avan Jogia has had a very interesting career. The life of a Nickelodeon kid can send one down many paths, some less fruitful than others. Jogia was that rare child actor who successfully transitioned into “adult” work without a loud announcement of his maturing. His acting career has had him dabble in numerous genres and stories, showing off his natural charisma and talent. In between acting, Jogia has kept busy producing music with his brother and their band Saint Ivory, and writing a book. Now, he has ventured into directing feature films, and his directorial feature debut is the stunning neo-noir and comic book-inspired Door Mouse.
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Door Mouse tells the story of Mouse (Hayley Law), a comic book writer/artist who works at a burlesque bar run by Mama (Famke Janssen). A friend and fellow burlesque dancer, Doe Eyes (Nhi Do), doesn’t show up for work one night, which alerts the already uneasy Mouse to something sinister. Things turn for the worst when another friend, the rad Scottish truth-teller Riz (Michela Cannon), is snatched outside the bar. Mouse must knock on the doors of some unsavory characters to uncover the truth — risking her life by asking dangerous questions.
Related: The 10 Best Neo-Noir Movies, According to Ranker
Famke Janssen in Door Mouse
Jogia has crafted a narrative that does not stray from the usual noir formula, save for one key exception. The feminine presence in the story is not the typical femme fatale, doomed to a tragic end or discarded by a chain-smoking, cynical male detective. Rather, at the forefront is a young woman who stands up for other women and hunts down leads with a sidekick, Ugly (Keith Powers), who is neither her protector nor lover. As nihilistic and pessimistic as Mouse is, her actions offer a glimpse into the power of community and sisterhood, even in the most dead-end of places. While the script is kitschy at times, it shows a reverence for film noir, the casual cruelness of the world on full display. Yet sincerity seeps through, most notably through the character of Mouse and Hayley Law’s performance.
Law left an impression with her performance in Netflix’s short-lived Altered Carbon and as one of the Pussycats in The CW’s Riverdale. Here she plays Mouse, a name possibly inspired by her afro poofs that resemble Mickey Mouse ears. Despite the connection to something as wholesome as Mickey, Mouse could not be any different. She is crude and morose, and despite her appearance and age, she acts like a disillusioned middle-aged man worn down by the world. Law nails the cadence of the central detective, and her wardrobe is a fun homage to the distinctive styling. Anyone who appreciates a good noir will enjoy how Law subverts and embraces that archetype. Her deadpan delivery and piercing gaze are pitch-perfect, aiding Jogia with his ambition to create his very own neo-noir that can be favorably compared to the cult-hit Brick. Law has a commanding presence and is the key to this oddball neo-noir working out.
Donal Logue in Door Mouse
Working with a low budget can limit creatives with grand ambitions. However, Jogia’s story lends itself to such limitations. With his lead character being a struggling comic book artist, he adopts cool comic graphics, allowing audiences to see the world through Mouse’s eyes. These graphics are also a fun way to circumvent the cost of staging action set pieces. The comic book interludes liven up the project and shows off Jogia’s creative spirit, immersing viewers in the central characters’ work. In the live-action portions, the film’s production design team gives each space a distinct look, creating a lived-in world despite very little seen of the public and the sparse nature of the places Mouse goes to. Paired with that are the costumes that give each character specificity and texture. Furthermore, the film is a handsome production with strong cinematography by Mike McLaughlin and a dynamic score, courtesy of Jogia’s brother Ketan Jogia, that is just right for the film’s vision. The team effort is easy to see and quite successful at crafting an intriguing narrative and world.
First features are immensely important; they can either set someone up for a smooth transition to the big leagues or not. If there is any justice, Door Mouse will garner the attention it deserves for being a well-defined narrative brought to life effectively and efficiently by a talented director whose imagination and creative drive become more evident with each scene. The only hiccup is that Door Mouse is that, when it comes to the comic book space in film, very little room is given to the smaller features that offer something different. Door Mouse, despite its undeniable path to being a well-regarded cult favorite, deserves some recognition in its first couple of weeks in theaters. Hopefully, Avan Jogia’s name recognition will bring Door Mouse attention because it deserves it.
More: The Seven Faces Of Jane Review: Gillian Jacobs Barely Redeems Muddled Experiment
Door Mouse opened in theaters and on digital Friday, January 13. It is 101 minutes long and not rated.
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