One of the hottest upcoming movies to be unveiled at the Toronto International Film Festival market is Sniff, a film noir with an impressive A-list cast. Set in a retirement community, the movie stars Oscar winners Morgan Freeman, Al Pacino, and Helen Mirren, with Oscar nominee Danny DeVito also starring. Oscar winning filmmaker Taylor Hackford (Ray) is also on board to direct using a screenplay by Tom Grey.
In Sniff, “two residents die under suspicious circumstances in a high-end luxury retirement community. Retired detective Joe Mulwray (Morgan Freeman) is pulled back into the action by his former partner William Keys (Danny DeVito), and they uncover a hidden underworld of sex, drugs and murder in the wealthy community controlled by kingpin Harvey Stride (Al Pacino), and his femme fatale enforcer, The Spider (Helen Mirren). Sniff is an acronym for Senior Nursing Institute & Family Foundation.”
Adam Goodman and Matt Skiena are producing Sniff through their Dichotomy Creative Group. Hackford is also producing for Anvil Films with writer Tom Grey executive producing. In a statement, Hackford explained the decision to make the movie a film noir using Out of the Past and its remake Against All Odds as inspiration.
“The whole concept of setting a film noir in an upscale retirement community … these are proliferating all over the United States as the baby boomer generation gets to retirement,” Hackford told Deadline. “There’s a lot of money, and people want to live in a beautiful setting. Those are on the brochures, but what Tom Grey did was show what was lurking below the surface. I thought it was a brilliant idea and he understood the nature of good noir – the dark story, the incredibly twisted characters – and I thought he had a great handle. Adam and Matt said, ‘It’s yours if you want to run with it.’ I met the writer, Tom Grey, we clicked and worked on it together, him writing and me putting ideas in.”
Hackford also says the hope is to jumpstart the noir genre with Sniff much in the same way Knives Out did to the whodunit. As Hackford explains, “Usually you don’t want to mention other films, and this has nothing to do with that film in terms of story. But I loved what Rian Johnson did in terms of taking an old genre, the whodunit, and spicing it up with life and making it real in the contemporary situation. That’s what I have in mind for Sniff in the film noir. There is a stylistic quotient in the writing and the characters that gives the audience light. There is an enjoyment in film noir, especially when you get a Bogart, a Mitchum – somebody who knows how to deliver great dialogue. That’s what Tom wrote, and I think it will be fun with the actors.”
“At its core, I’m serious about film noir and that it gets dark and difficult,” he adds. “There will be laughs and smiles in the film, but as it goes, it gets darker and darker, and it pays off. If you are using film noir and it doesn’t pay off in a very climactic way, it becomes a euphemistic use of that turn, and this is not that. We’ve got great racehorses on a really interesting track, and when that happens, there is potential if I do my job, to turn out a memorable film.”
Endeavor Content will launch worldwide sales for Sniff at TIFF. According to producer Adam Goodman, the goal is to start production in early 2022 for a release in the fourth quarter of next year. This news comes to us from Deadline.