Tom Konkle’s Trouble is My Business is a revisit to the thrilling days of yesteryear black and white crime drama in the tradition of The Maltese Falcon and a generation of films like it. Shadows, murder, betrayal, bizarre wealthy families, and snappy dialogue are all lovingly recreated down to the last detail. Konkle funded the film, as least partially, from Kickstarter and brought the noir genre back to life for one spirited feature. It is polished and stylistically complete, amazingly so given the budget.
In which private detective Roland Drake falls for two sisters from the Montemar family.He winds up in bed with both of them. One woman dies, the other wants to kill him. Hilarity ensues. This is pure homage to the stories of Raymond Chandler, Mickey Spillane, Dashiell Hammett, Cornell Woolrich, Ross MacDonald, and the films that showcased them.
The shades of light and shadow onscreen are right on the money. Cinematography is beautiful, with the help of some obvious (but not distracting) CGI including beautiful digital ray traced images of vintage cars, streets, and skylines. Some of the traveling scenes play like Sin City.
“…private detective Roland Drake falls for two sisters from the Montemar family. One woman dies, the other wants to kill him.“
Konkle himself plays Drake, and has the patter down, but there is an issue with the self-casting, as he doesn’t look the part. He should have found someone else for the lead. He’s competent, but he’s no Humphrey Bogart. What is it about Bogart? He was flawed, not at all a pretty man, but commanded the screen like few other actors. It is, perhaps, unfair to fault Konkle for not being Bogart, as no one is, but the film has a Bogart-shaped hole right in the middle of each frame. Bogart, Cagney, Powell, Edward G, or Mitchum: so convincingly rendered is their world that it’s hard not to notice their absence.
Brittney Powell nails her performance and the supporting cast are exactly right. Vernon Wells, best known for playing the mohawk sporting biker Wez inThe Road Warrior, is 72 now and chews the scenery as a corrupt cop with a satisfying balance of craggy faced menace and evil glee.
The film is in no hurry, it moves like a noir film did, which feels a little slow for a modern audience. At just shy of 120 minutes, it also runs long. After the fourth or fifth plot twist the novelty of seeing a new old film wears off and it’s time to wrap it up. A 90 minute cut would have been perfect. The Thin Man runs 93 minutes, the Maltese Falcon 101. Those classics are good timing benchmarks.
Nitpicks aside, all in all, if you’ve got a rainy afternoon when you’re laying low, a good stiff belt of bathtub gin, and a love for those old crime dramas, this feature will please you immensely. Trouble is My Business, and business is pretty damn good.
Trouble is My Business (2018). Directed by Tom Konkle. Written by Tom Konkle, Brittney Powell. Starring Vernon Wells, Tom Konkle, Brittney Powell.
7 out of 10
Interesting note that the trailer is in color. There is currently a DVD available for the film that offers both a B&W and a color version. B&W feels authentic to the genre; color would be distracting.