Proof Sheet | Film Threat

Feb 27, 2023

I’ve been saying this for a long time, but if you’re going to make a genre picture, you need to be a fan of that genre. In Richard Kilroy’s neo-noir Proof Sheet, the director/co-writer shows he understands all the noir elements. This happens even though he and co-writer Eduardo Santiago change the players and the setting up a bit to stand out from the crowd.
Angel (Leo Llenas) is about to celebrate his 21st birthday, but his life is a bit go-nowhere. He hopes to one day turn his love of photography into a profession, so he works for minimum wage at his Uncle Gilbert’s (Alejandro Delgado) photo lab. While at lunch, Angel spots a beautiful woman, Reina (Catherine Lidstone), being followed by a menacing man in a hoodie. He runs interference on the man so she can escape. As luck would have it, Reina was heading to Angel’s photo lab due to some business with Gilbert. The closed-off Reina leaves, but not after accepting an invitation to Angel’s birthday party that night.
At the tail end of the party, Reina shows up and confesses to Angel that she hopes to leave L.A., but she is being blackmailed by some thugs holding Reina’s sister hostage. Angel says he’ll help rescue her and for Reina to meet him at the photo lab the next day. Of course, Reina never shows up, and just before closing up for the night, a last-minute rush shows up. When Angel develops the film, it contains pictures of Reina in physical danger.
If Proof Sheet doesn’t scream neo-noir, I don’t know what does. It starts with a sad sack of a private investigator, which in this case is photography enthusiast Angel. He is immediately smitten with the femme fatale, Reina, who begs for his help, knowing that it will put him in danger. When she winds up missing, Angel becomes obsessed with finding her, even at his peril. Once this amateur investigator starts stirring up trouble, he quickly finds himself in over his head.

“…blackmailed by some thugs holding Reina’s sister hostage. Angel says he’ll help rescue her…”
Also, like any good noir, the movie takes place in Los Angeles, specifically in the predominantly Hispanic neighborhood of Echo Park. Kilroy and Santiago organically infuse Hispanic culture into their tale. When the film opens, Angel is a naive kid who just wants to rise above his situation. He feels like an outsider as he speaks little-to-no Spanish, but he is the son of Mexican immigrants who wanted a better life for their children in the States. However, the character quickly gets reality slapped into him. These elements aid in both setting Proof Sheet apart from other noirs and in the characterization of Angel.
This brings up lead actor Leo Llenas, who brilliantly carries the entire flick. He plays the naivete well while remaining likable. Once the danger hits, the actor proves capable as well. The rest of the cast do reasonably well.
Another element of noir is the idea that the loved ones you thought you knew, based on the idyllic picture you made up in your mind, are not who they say they are. Angel’s hardworking uncle holds a lot of secrets about the clients he’s taken in recently. Angel’s father is a disgraced cop about to find redemption but still won’t take any of his calls. On a side note, a medium, played by Maria Conchita Alonso, adds a little spiritual flair to the plot.
Proof Sheet succeeds in bringing the noir genre into the modern age while changing up some of the basic tropes and staying true to the genre’s spirit. It’s a fun thrill ride that will sneak up on you if you give it a chance.
For screening information, visit the Proof Sheet official website.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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