'Door Mouse' Puts a Stylish Spin on Neo-Noir Directed by Avan Jogia
Starring Hayley Law, Keith Powers, Donal Logue, Famke Janssen, Nhi Do
Published Jan 13, 2023Avan Jogia's neo-noir, gumshoe detective story is a highly-stylized affair. While the story and pacing are, at times, lacklustre, Jogia gives us more than enough to sink our teeth into, making Door Mouse a promising debut for the Canadian director.
Mouse (Hayley Law), an aspiring comic book writer, works at Mama's Burlesque Club in the evenings and often ponders where her life is going, if not continuing towards a dreary dead end. As Mouse continues to write and illustrate comic books with little success or interest, young women in the city are being snatched from the street, including her friend and coworker, Doe-Eyes (Nhi Do).
With little concern from the police, Mouse and her friend Ugly (Keith Powers) take it upon themselves to find Doe-Eyes and take down who is behind these kidnappings. Before long, Mouse finds herself in the middle of some deep-seated corruption that hits a little too close to home.
The performances across the board are all strong, with Law, of course, doing the heavy lifting. Her ability to melt into the vibe Jogia has created helps build the world of Door Mouse well. Law hits the right notes of dour and melancholy when bringing to life the sombre and tenacious young woman tormented by her circumstances and with a desire to rise above them.
The star of Door Mouse, though, is Jogia himself lending a strong directorial command. As the story progresses, the film is segmented into comic book issues as Mouse's reality becomes the source material for her art. Jogia deftly and seamlessly flips between comic illustrations and live-action shots, elevating the artistry of the film. Add in Mouse's American Psycho-esque inner monologue serving as narration through the film, Jogia presents the neo-noir genre in a manner that feels fresh and modern, while still retaining its classic elements.
For all the stylistic graces of Door Mouse, they don't entirely make up for a predictable story that moves at a languid pace. Considering the relatively tight run time of 97 minutes, the film carries excess and one too many drawn-out moments that betray the swish aesthetic.
That being said, there are plenty of aspects in the film that point toward a director with a robust eye for world-building and intricate design that makes for a compelling watch. Door Mouse doesn't break the mould, but it certainly opens the door for things to come from Jogia. (Elevation Pictures)