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Sniff - What We Know So Far

Film noir has its roots in the gangster films of the 1940s and 1950s, but it's a genre that's often associated with World War II, especially post-war feelings of anxiety and cynicism, as explained by The Los Angeles Times. Since then, film noir has evolved repeatedly with changing times, and in more recent years, noir has been combined with all kinds of other genres and settings to create something new — whether it involves high school drama ("Brick") to superheroes (Christopher Nolan's "Dark Knight" trilogy) to animation ("Sin City"), just to name three popular examples.

And when the upcoming noir thriller "Sniff" premieres, it will take the genre to yet another unfamiliar place: nursing homes. 

On September 7, 2021, "Sniff" was sold at the Toronto International Film Festival. It already has an impressive cast of Oscar winners and nominees. Even better, the wait for the premiere should be relatively short, at least compared with other movie production schedules during the era of COVID-19. Here's everything we know so far about "Sniff."

What is the release date for Sniff?

According to one of the producers of "Sniff," Adam Goodman of Dichotomy Creative Group, the plan is to push the movie out fairly soon. As Goodman told Deadline, producers are aiming to begin production at the end of the first quarter 2022, with the intent being for the movie to premiere at the end of that year. To be clear, though, Goodman characterized that as the "dream" goal, and as the COVID-19 pandemic has shown repeatedly, plans can change quite quickly these days.

One reason why Goodman and company want "Sniff" to debut sooner rather than later is because the movie will target a demographic that the movie business often overlooks: baby boomers. "Adult audiences are wildly underserved right now, and it feels like there is a great opportunity here," Goodman said. "This film can play broadly but it can be a real event for that community. We really haven't seen this type of cast since the 'Ocean's Eleven' movies."

Who is in the cast of Sniff?

Speaking of the cast: Four actors have already joined the cast of "Sniff," and they're all heavy hitters. Morgan Freeman plays the lead, retired detective Joe Mulwray, a cop "at the end of his rope." Danny DeVito, meanwhile, will play William Keys, Mulwray's former partner who pulls him into the investigation. Al Pacino plays Harvey Stride, the owner and manager of the upscale retirement community where the story takes place, and the movie's villain. Finally, Helen Mirren plays the Spider, Stride's femme fatale enforcer. 

According to the movie's director, Taylor Hackford, these four actors were all screenwriter Tom Grey's first choices for the roles. Before boarding "Sniff," Hackford previously directed "The Comedian," "Ray," and "The Devil's Advocate." As for screenwriter Grey, this marks his first produced work. Adam Goodman and Matt Skiena are producing via Dichotomy, with Hackford and Grey producing as well. 

It's likely that more casting announcements will be made in the months leading up to the start of production. We'll update this as they become available.

What is the plot of Sniff?

The announcement of the sale of "Sniff" also came with an official logline. As reported by Deadline, the movie begins when "Two residents die under suspicious circumstances in a high-end luxury retirement community. Retired detective Mulwray is pulled back into the action by his former partner Keys, and they uncover a hidden underworld of sex, drugs and murder in the wealthy community controlled by kingpin Stride, and his femme fatale enforcer, The Spider." 

"Sniff" is an acronym that stands for Senior Nursing Institute & Family Foundation. In terms of tone, the film will be a neo-noir with some comedic elements. Hackford said that he hopes "Sniff" will do for the noir genre what "Knives Out" and director Rian Johnson did for the whodunit, revitalizing and updating it for modern audiences.

"[In film noir] there is a stylistic quotient in the writing and the characters that gives the audience light," Hackford explained. "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. There will be laughs and smiles in the film, but as it goes, it gets darker and darker, and it pays off."