Chris Pine makes his directorial debut with a kinetic noir comedy where he plays an anxious pool cleaner who uncovers a curious conspiracy in the city of Los Angeles.
Boasting a brilliant cast that includes Jennifer Jason Leigh, Annette Bening, and Danny DeVito, Chris Pine’s directorial debut is a noir comedy about an anxious pool cleaner who unravels a curious conspiracy in the city of Los Angeles.
Every morning, Darren (Pine) inspects and cleans the pool of his low-rise apartment block — a Zen ritual he performs with exacting precision, partly because it’s the one thing that he can actually nurture in his beloved city. He looks up to Erin Brockovich’s example of social justice, writing daily letters to her about his (failing) fight for a better bus schedule. But after an embarrassing scuffle at a city council meeting, he hits rock bottom — until a femme fatale named June Del Rey (DeWanda Wise) shows up at his pool step with an intriguing piece of information. Darren sees it as an opportunity to save Los Angeles. To get to the bottom of the case, he ropes in his idiosyncratic friends: his pilates instructor girlfriend Susan (Leigh), his therapist Dianne (Bening, also at the Festival in NYAD), and her husband, Jack (DeVito), a washed-up director who’s shooting a documentary on what might actually prove to be a dangerous conspiracy.
With this wry spin on Chinatown, Pine puts his superb comic instincts to use behind the lens, while delivering a charismatic performance as the sincere and shaggy ne’er-do-well who just wants to make his city a better place. With music by Andrew Bird and charming production design that seeds the iconography of noir classics in a modern-day setting, Poolman is a sunny remix of a dark genre that proves a kinetic joy.
Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival
Content advisory: sexual content