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March 22, 2007

The Black Dahlia - 4

Brian De Palma (Scarface, The Untouchables, etc.) directs this fictional story surrounding the real death of Elizabeth Short in 1947 by James Ellroy (L.A. Confidential). The film is done in the style of a 40's crime drama and the visuals are able to give the audience the feel of the times. The plot tries to be noir, but doesn't really get there, which I suspect is due to the casting. Bucky (Josh Hartnett) and Lee (Aaron Eckhart) are L.A. cops and partners, who become obsessed with the Dahlia case. The film hinges on people's secrets, that Bucky must put together and the audience is forced to follow any new insight he happens upon (only a few initial scenes don't have him in them). The subplot involves Kay Lake (Scarlett Johansson), Lee's wife, and femme fatale, Madeleine Linscott (Hilary Swank). While I think these actors and actress's are decent, they don't work well in this film. The homage to old movies also seems awkward rather than artistic. The film also plays into the fascination of the murder being a work of art, which is the most disturbing part of the film ending - when the case gets all wrapped up very bizarrely.

1 comment:

Russ said...

I think you've hit on some good points here. I was disappointed in the movie myself: the plot and dialogue seemed stilted and forced. Also, Johannsen's character left something to be desired--not well written or acted. Plus, if Josh Hartnett could show any less emoting, he would be a Vulcan.

Add to that how they broke the suspension of disbelief by making the unraveling of the plot completely ludicrous and unbelievable.